Common Issues or Disputes Encountered by Residents in Private Estates

Residents living in private estates such as condominiums and landed properties may encounter various private issues or disputes.

While BCA cannot intervene in or advise on private disputes, we have included a flowchart with some examples of common private disputes, and a list of dispute resolution mechanisms available.

Disputes encountered by Private Estate Residents

Mediation as a form of dispute resolution

(for various kinds of disputes)

You are encouraged to first approach the other dispute party to discuss solutions that may resolve matters amicably. If this is not effective, mediation may be considered.

Mediation is a process in which a neutral third-party mediator facilitates the parties' settlement negotiations, to help them arrive at a mutually acceptable solution. The focus of mediation is on finding solutions that will meet the parties' concerns. The mediator will not make a decision concerning who is at fault in the dispute.

For non-contractual disputes such as community and neighbourly disputes, you may consider approaching the Community Mediation Centre (CMC), which is administered by the Ministry of Law. Mediation at CMC is a cost effective way for parties to resolve their issues. You may read examples of cases mediated by CMC.

For contractual disputes, you may consider mediation bodies such as the Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC).

For encroachment / boundary line disputes, you may consider to ascertain your own land/boundary ownership by obtaining a registered surveyor’s certification on your legal boundary. You may then consider mediation via CMC or SMC to help resolve the dispute.

Neighbourhood Committees

(for neighbourly disputes)

Neighbourhood Committees (NCs) encourage active citizenry and foster stronger community bonds within private housing estates. One of the NCs’ functions is to promote neighbourliness, harmony and cohesiveness amongst residents, and also foster good citizenship amongst residents.

If you live in a private estate, you may consider approaching your NC to see if they can help to mediate the dispute. For a list of NCs, you may visit the People’s Association website.

Management Corporation Strata Titles (MCSTs)

(for disputes in Strata Titled Developments e.g. Condominiums)

MCSTs managing strata-titled developments are empowered under the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act (BMSMA) to regulate and manage affairs within their estates.

When people of different backgrounds and interests live in the same estate, there are bound to be disagreements and disputes. To live happily in a community, everyone has to practise good neighbourliness and is encouraged to adopt “win-win” solutions.

With this in mind, dispute parties may first approach their MCST to mediate the dispute. If this is ineffective, mediation at the CMC or SMC may be considered.

Strata Titles Boards

(for disputes in Strata Titled Developments e.g. Condominiums)

The Strata Titles Boards are tribunals established under the BMSMA to mediate and hear applications between subsidiary proprietors and management corporation, or between subsidiary proprietors, in matters relating to certain disputes arising in respect of strata titled property and orders for collective sales of property under the Land Titles (Strata) Act.

Examples of common disputes in strata titled developments brought before the Boards include those on:

  • inter-floor water leakages,
  • performance or failure to perform certain duties under the BMSMA or by-laws,
  • applications to convene meetings or invalidate resolutions passed by the management corporations,
  • car parking woes,
  • complaints with regard to alterations to common property,
  • applications to revoke or invalidate certain by-laws,
  • supply of information by management corporation,
  • management corporation requesting to enter an apartment to carry out particular work etc

You may refer to the full list at the Strata Living Guide (SLG)'s page. If there are disputes with your MCST, or a fellow SP that cannot be resolved via mediation, you may consider lodging an application with the STB at https://www.stratatb.gov.sg.

Community Disputes Resolution Tribunal (CDRT)

(for neighbourly disputes)

The Community Disputes Resolution Act (CDRA) creates a new statutory tort of interfering with the enjoyment or use of places of residence. The underlying principle is that no person should cause unreasonable interference with his neighbour's enjoyment or use of that neighbour's place of residence. The CDRA also establishes the Community Disputes Resolution Tribunal (CDRT) as part of the State Courts to hear cases under the CDRA.

Neighbours should consider starting proceedings in the Community Disputes Resolution Tribunal (CDRT) only after all self-help options, including community mediation, have been tried and exhausted.  Please visit the CDRT’s website for more information.

Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE)

(for disputes with service provider)

If you have a dispute with a service provider (e.g. renovation contractor etc), you may consider approaching CASE for advice and assistance. For information can be found at CASE’s website.

Small Claims Tribunal

(for resolution of small claims)

The Small Claims Tribunals are part of the State Courts of Singapore. The Tribunals were established on 1 February 1985 to provide a quick and inexpensive forum for the resolution of small claims between consumers and suppliers.  With effect from 1 November 2019, the Tribunals hear claims not exceeding $20,000. This limit can be raised to $30,000 if both parties agree and file a Memorandum of Consent online. A claim cannot be split or divided to bring it within the Tribunals' jurisdiction.

Please visit the Small Claims Tribunal’s website for more information on the types of claims that the Tribunals can hear (e.g. a tort for damage caused to property, a contract for the provision of services etc).

Other Options (e.g. Legal Avenues etc)

If the above avenues do not resolve the disputes, you may consider seeking independent legal advice on your available recourses. If you require legal aid, some helpful links are below:

  1. Primary Justice Project (allows disputing parties to pay a fixed fee for basic legal services geared towards settlement via alternative dispute resolution)
  2. MinLaw’s Legal Services Search Directory (look for a lawyer)
  3. Asia Law Network Quick Consult (legal advice via phone for a flat fee)
  4. Community Legal Clinics (free basic legal advice; eligibility conditions apply)
  5. Private Legal Clinics (eligibility conditions apply)
  6. Legal Aid Bureau (apply for legal aid)

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