Monday, March 23, 2009

What happens to a property after the 99 years lease runs out?

I've been asked this question umpteen times when people enquire about these Tiong Bahru properties.

The answer is actually straight forward.

The property or land goes back to the land owner; which is usually the government.

For the Tiong Bahru properties, since the land belongs to The Housing Development Board (HDB), the properties will be returned to the HDB when the lease runs out.

Interestingly, most buyers had mistakenly assumed our government will compensate the home owners with a replacement flat or through some cash payout at the end of the lease.

That is a wrong perception.

There is no residual value after the lease runs out.

Our government is not obligated to pay anyone anything after the lease expires.

If our government so decides to compensate these owners, it is really their prerogative and it is not an obligation on their part.

The lease system works somewhat like a Tenancy Agreement.

After the Tenancy Agreement ends, other than returning the security deposit back to the tenant, the Landlord is not obligated to pay or incentivise the tenants to move out.

Our government tends to favour leasehold land or property titles as it gives them the flexibility in re-allocating land to meet socio-economic needs.

Not all leases run its due course.

Some leases get topped up mid way before it expires.

Others are not so fortunate.

The New Paper reported some pockets of properties within Singapore with very short leases left and it seems that they will never get topped up at all.

We are living on borrowed time

Hard to get bank loan

Residential (landed) leases rarely extended

As a Tiong Bahru resident reading the above report, it was as if I’ve time travelled into the year 2054.

Some on the problems highlighted in “We are living on borrowed time” may eventually replicate itself here at the future Tiong Bahru.

Just imagine, 40% of our conserved buildings will be used as temples, the other 40% will be used as workers’ quarters while only the remaining 20% are owner occupied.

Before you get too pessimistic about the fate of Tiong Bahru, hold your horses first!

If you have read the report carefully, you would have noticed the difference.

Tiong Bahru is a low rise conserved apartment while those in the reports are “landed” houses.
(It is the landed type of properties that are seldom renewed)

So there might be some opportunity for the lease to be topped up sometime down the road.

So how can we start the ball rolling in the right direction?

Will this top up lease exercise be a government led initiative or will it be a resident led initiative?

Since the lease may be extended only if the proposed use and tenure are aligned with the Government's planning intention, what can the residents of Tiong Bahru Estate do to increase the probability of getting the lease topped up sooner?

Do we really need to change for the sake of changing so that the lease will be topped up?

Can't a lease be topped up just by staying the same?

I’ve got so many questions with no answers at all.

However, I remain hopeful that residents in Tiong Bahru could be the wave makers in our leasehold landscaped country.

We will eventually figure out something and pave a way for other leasehold properties to follow.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Will Two Wrongs Make One Right?

When Tiong Bahru Estate was built in the 1930s, the British architects designed the place with the exposed 'Alexandra' bricks in mind.

About 10 years ago, the bricks at Block 79 and Block 80 Chay Yan Street were painted over with white paints.

At that time, Pre-War Tiong Bahru hasn't been conserved and people were generally quite indifferent to such small details.

I think it was a short cut band aid solution to the persistent seepage problems that are inherent in these porous bricks.

Painting the wall with epoxy paint seems like a clever and cheap solution back then.

Now that residents are more aware of such details, having a painted over brick wall is no longer acceptable.

They wanted the brick walls back and town council had promised that they will explore and brainstorm a solution.

So after many months of brainstorming, I spotted these 3 colour patches at block 79 Chay Yan Street.

It is obvious that they are experimenting with another coat of colours to make the brick walls look like a brick wall.

I think the residents were thinking that the town council will remove the white paint to reveal the true brick colours, not put another coat of paint to right the wrong.

If getting back the brick is so difficult, I rather they leave the white paint on than try to mimic a brick colour.

It will make these two blocks look very fake.

You can put your "PEE" on me.

At about 3am last night, my sister in law was awoken by 3 migrant workers who were speaking loudly outside her window. (My in laws live in a ground floor unit within the Tiong Bahru Estate)

The 3 of them were drunk and one of them appeared more drunk than the other two.

As she was trying to get some sleep and this trio did not seemed to be ending the night soon, she had to call the police to intervene.

While she was waiting for the police to arrive, one of the trios walked across the road to relive himself in some bushes.

I think the plants were grateful for the nutritious drink but I am very sure the residents living near that fertilized spot will not share the same sentiments.

Anyway, our man in blue eventually showed up to take control of the situation.

I was told the policeman politely asked the two guys and a gal to move to the Seng Poh Garden to avoid disturbing the residents.

Seng Poh Garden
Wow, that is an example of thinking on one’s feet!

There are indeed a lot more thirsty plants over at the garden!

By the way, the title was inspired by Akon’s You Can Put the Blame on Me.(Other than the pun on the title, the song has nothing to do with this post).

The only problem I have now is that I could almost hear the plants swinging and swaying to this song whenever I walk past Seng Poh Garden!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Tiong Bahru SIT flats - Sketches

Check this out!

The sketches done by justseehong is great.

This is Seng Poh Road where the "famous" curry rice is.

Friday, March 6, 2009

What you may find outside your windows these days.

No, I'm not talking about the tree. Click on the picture to find a furry mammal.

This is the 1st time I've seen a squirrel outside my windows

No, he is not doing a pole dance

He got nervous when he discovered a lens pointing at him

Installation of Dry Risers in Tiong Bahru Estate

The Notice

Surbana is currently installing dry risers at Block 78 Guan Chuan Street, Moh Guan Terrace , Yong Siak Street, Block 79 & Block 80 Chay Yan Street.

It seems that only these blocks will be fitted with the dry riser as these are the only blocks within the Tiong Bahru Estate that has five levels.

The other blocks seems safe for the time being.

I think no one really has any issues with this added fire safety measures.

The only ones who might have issues are probably the affected shops as the red pipes run right across their signage!

The contractor told me they have to align it with the entrance to the upstairs, hence the red pipes are positioned as such.

Personally, I think they should put more thoughts into how these pipes are run, it just spoils the whole facade of the building.

And these pipes will also collect dust over time and the bright red will eventually become a dull red in time to come.

Any architect out there who might have some suggestions?

The bright red pipes run across the shop front

The pipes have to be aligned with the entrance

The shop's signage is blocked

The dry riser running through all levels inside the buildings

Monday, March 2, 2009

Let memories of old bring smiles, not tears

The New Paper
By Brian Miller
March 2, 2009

Let memories of old bring smiles, not tears

THE wrecking ball is wreaking havoc with my memories. And, like some reader commented in a letter to the papers, Singapore is losing its soul.

I wouldn't go so far as to equate progress with losing one's soul.

But we're certainly losing something.

Fifteen years ago, I watched as a monument from my youth was reduced to rubble.

It wasn't the red-bricked National Library.

It was plain ol' Jackie's Bowl at Orchard.

No big deal, right?

But each time that huge metal ball brought down a chunk of concrete, it felt like a chop to the throat.

I remember it not because it was the first public place to install an escalator - although that was a thrill.

I remember it as being the place where I had my 'second education'.

St Joseph's Institution - it's still standing, thank you - helped me get through my exams.

Jackie's Bowl taught me about life.

It was an icon from my past.

Then there was the Singapore Recreation Club.

We called it the grand ol' lady.

Somehow, someone decided that the old lady's time was up.

She had become, well, old hat.

So they tore her down and built a new clubhouse.

An 'oasis', they called it.

I have yet to drink from her well.

Take Bugis Street.

What a great place.

Dirty. But full of character.

We got rid of it and built another.

It was never the same.

Some days when I've nothing to do, I drive to the end of Punggol Road, and look across to Johor.

It's all industry where once was unspoilt mangrove swamp.

To my left, the bungalow, where we spent family holidays, is no more.

It was brought down years ago.

Instead of the black mud on the beach, which we squelched through at low tide, there is white sand, like something out of a Bahamas tourist brochure.

Soon, on that site, Punggol 21 will rise.

But why can't some places be left untouched?

Then again, am I being a sentimental fool?

Or must everything be new to be good?

Is old the new bad?

I guess you can say that this is what progress is all about.

This is what is called 'moving with the times'.

Funny, I liked it when time stood still.

However, even I will admit that sometimes, it's all for the best.

The National Theatre where I watched top bands perform, is no more.

Van Kleef Aquarium where I saw my first leatherback turtle is gone.

I moaned when they pulled down the Globe Cinema along Kim Seng Road.

No more mid-afternoon snoozes in one of the 'circle seats'.

No more food stalls.

But look at it now.

Plenty of food. A new cinema. Great World City. Great.

No National Theatre, but we have the Esplanade.


No Van Kleef Aquarium. So what?

We have Underwater World.

Do I really want a kampung on stilts at Punggol Point?

Or one at Lorong Buangkok? No running water. Only stand-pipes. No proper sewerage system?

Someone remarked that 'the lorry with many windows' - which collected raw waste in the 'days of yuck' was 'quaint'.

I think smelly's the word.

Yes, we are picky in what we want retained and what we want banished from our lives.

But do we really want to turn back the clock?

I think I hear a resounding 'no'.

So, don't stop reminiscing.

But make sure it brings on a smile - not tears.