Photo of Tin Pei Ling from CNA

Singapore’s Housing Development Board (HDB) has declared on state media that falling concrete from the ceiling is the homeowner’s responsibility and that they are not obliged to help pay for damages:

“Flat interiors are the responsibility of home owners.”

Market rate of repair costs for spalling concrete range from S$300 for a small mobile phone patch, to S$1,200 for a 5m sq toilet ceiling. Spalling concrete occurs when steel bars embedded in the ceiling start corroding, resulting in surrounding concrete to fall off in chunks. The incident took headlines last week when an 80-year-old elderly was injured from the falling concrete.

Photo from Shin Min Daily

PAP MP Tin Pei Ling, whose constituency MacPherson SMC having nearly all of its HDB flats in ageing conditions, said that “public education” is key and that the government can just “step up on brochures and road shows”. Nee Soon GRC PAP MP Lee Bee Wah agreed with the HDB and said that residents should be responsible for noticing wear and tear.

In its media interview, HDB did not reveal how many cases of falling concrete occurred in the past year but said that between 2014 and 2016, around 17,800 households applied for financial assistance under the Goodwill Repair Assistance scheme.

However, Singaporean HDB “homeowners” are technically renters on a 99-year lease with the HDB, or on leases as low as 45 years for older resale apartments built in the 1960s. In housing sales contracts, HDB apartments remain the property of HDB and that “homeowners” are to seek HDB approval for any construction work including non-beam-related works or works that do not affect the structural integrity of the building.