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Basics of Condo Living


SECTION 2

Basics of Condo Living

It is important for you to understand what condo living entails and what to expect before you decide to live in a condominium. This section will help you to have a better understanding of what you are buying and what you can expect when living in a condo.


What can you expect from condo living?

1

participant

Self-Governance

Condos are managed on self-governance, where all condo owners collectively decide how best to manage the estate that they share.

This means that all affairs and decisions are to be managed and resolved privately between the parties involved.

2

collaboration

Active Participation

As a unit owner / subsidiary proprietor (SP), you are part of the Management Corporation (MC), which is similar to being a stakeholder/shareholder of a company.

This means that you need to play an active role in the running and maintenance of the whole estate, and not just your individual unit.

3

sharing

Shared Responsibilities

You will be part of a community with shared responsibilities in ensuring that the estate is well maintained.

If repairs are needed, you, together with all the other owners, will need to decide on how to cover the repairs.



1.   Self-governance
Condos are managed on self-governance, facilitated by the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act (BMSMA). The BMSMA allows all condo owners to collectively decide how best to manage the estate that they share. This means that all affairs and decisions are to be managed and resolved privately between the parties involved as they are considered private issues. Where needed, the parties involved may escalate these issues to the appropriate channels such as tabling for discussion in a general meeting or via private mediation channels.

For example, homeowners are required to privately resolve disputes concerning inter-floor leakage within their lots. If your neighbour upstairs refuses to rectify the works despite you requesting them to do so, you will then need to escalate the issue by making an application (fees applies) to the Strata Titles Board, for resolution. The Strata Titles Board is a tribunal set up to hear a specific list of disputes between Management Corporations (MCs) / owners.


2.   Active participation
As a unit owner i.e. subsidiary proprietor (SP), you are part of the Management Corporation (MC), which is similar to being a stakeholder / shareholder of a company. This means that you need to play an active role in the running and maintenance of the whole estate, and not just your individual unit. This is done by means of:
i. attending and voting at general meetings;
ii. paying maintenance fees and other payments for maintenance of common property on time, and
iii. considerate usage of your unit and common property


3.   Shared Responsibilities
You will be part of a community with shared responsibilities in ensuring that the estate is well maintained. For example, if there are inadequate funds to pay for the repair of the swimming pool's filter system or spalling concrete in the common areas, you, together with all the other owners, will need to decide on increasing the monthly fees or pay a lump-sum fee to cover the repairs.

What do you own?

1

A private residential unit
(“strata lot”)

The size of your unit ("strata lot") will largely determine the share value of your unit. Read more about what you own as part of the unit.
 

You will be responsible for any repairs within the unit including the cost of repairs, whereas repairs to the common property may be paid for by using the maintenance funds contributed by all owners.

Therefore, it is important to be clear on the boundaries of your unit ("strata lot"). For example, whether the space right outside the main door is considered part of your unit. You may clarify this with your developer/seller if you are unsure.

2

Common property:
jointly owned by all owners

The common property is jointly owned by all owners in a development in proportion to the share value of their units. Read more about possible restrictions for common property.

Note that there may also be restrictions and rules on the use of common property. For example, some condominium estates may have specified timing on the use of barbeque pits, swimming pool and gym.

Also, different estates may have different guidelines on parking lot allocations, you may check with the developer/seller on the allocation.

What else to know

  1. Private residential units also referred to as “strata lots”, owned by persons referred to as “subsidiary proprietors” (“SPs”); and
  2. common property, which is property within condominium estates that is outside strata lots that may be used by 2 or more subsidiary proprietors (SPs) or occupiers of the unit. This includes swimming pools, gyms, lift lobbies, corridors, carparks, lifts, playgrounds, gardens, drop-off points, exterior building walls, etc.


All owners i.e. subsidiary proprietors (SPs) make up the Management Corporation (MC), which collectively makes decisions on key issues in the estate, in accordance with the Building Management and Strata Management Act (BMSMA). The BMSMA is the legislation governing strata-titled developments in Singapore. This Act provides a self-governing framework for Management Corporations (MCs) to manage their estate.

Within the Management Corporation (MC), up to 14 members can be elected to form the management council. This management council is a representative body of members that represents the Management Corporation (MC) to administer the day-to-day running of the estate and is elected at each Annual General Meeting (AGM). Of these elected members, 3 are to be appointed as office bearers who hold additional responsibilities specific to their roles: the chairperson, the secretary, and the treasurer.


Share Value is an important concept to understand in condo living as it directly affects you as an owner. The share value of a property is a figure that determines the rights e.g. voting rights assigned to each unit in the same estate.

For example, if the share value of your unit is represented by the figure 5/350, it means that 350 represents the total share value of all the units in the condo, and 5 is the share value allotted to your unit.

The share value of your unit represents:
  1. The amount of maintenance contributions you have to pay to the Management Corporation (MC) for the running and maintenance of common areas in the estate.
  2. Your voting rights at meetings. The higher your share value, the more voting rights you have.
  3. The share of common property that you own, which is jointly owned by all other owners in the estate.


The payment of monthly maintenance contributions goes towards the maintenance and upkeep of common property and facilities, as well as any future major maintenance works. These contributions may also be used to pay for the Management Corporation's (MC's) insurance policies, utilities for common areas, and services such as security etc.

Often, the amount of maintenance contributions you pay is proportionate to the share value of the lot that you own.

Note that the amount of maintenance charge may be reviewed annually at each annual general meeting (AGM) of the Management Corporation (MC).


The Management Corporation (MC) may collectively decide (via voting) to employ an managing agent (MA) to assist in the day-to-day running of the estate. This means that there will be a dedicated person overseeing and ensuring that the estate is managed and maintained on behalf of the Management Corporation (MC). For example, if your water supply is suddenly cut off due to a faulty pipe, you can approach your managing agent (MA) for assistance.

Some managing agents (MAs) are accredited. These managing agents (MAs) have gone through a structured training program and have passed an examination conducted by either the Association of Property and Facility Managers (APFM) or Association of Strata Managers (ASM), and the BCA Academy, among other requirements set by the respective associations. The skillsets developed through the accreditation training program will equip managing agents (MAs) with the capabilities to carry out duties professionally.

Besides a managing agent (MA) , the Management Corporation (MC) may also need to engage service providers to maintain common facilities and features such as the swimming pool, landscape, tennis courts, lift etc.

Did you know? 70% of condos in Singapore engage a managing agent to help run their estates.


You are not allowed to make any alterations to features fixed on the external building such as external windows and external walls (note that this may include balcony walls), without approvals from the Management Corporation (MC) and any relevant government agencies. Read here for more information.


In this guide:


Disclaimer

This guide has been prepared by the Building and Construction Authority (“BCA”), and is not intended to be a legal interpretation of laws including the BMSM Act or legal advice. Potential condominium buyers should seek professional legal advice if they wish to better understand their legal rights and duties. The Commissioner of Buildings, BCA and any other agency shall not be liable for any reliance on any information contained in this guide by any person.

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