In May, new private home sales in Singapore declined as a result of new COVID-19 regulations.

In May, there were significantly fewer new private residences for sale in Singapore than in April, following the implementation of Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) regulations.

In May, developers sold 891 private residential units, excluding executive condominiums, according to the URA.

Sales decreased by 29.7 percent during the period when Singapore was experiencing its “circuit breaker” or disruption. However, this represented an increase of 83% over the previous year, when Singapore was in its “circuit breaker” period.

Outside Central Region led new home sales in May with 401 units sold, followed by the Rest of Central Region with 299 units sold and the Core Central Region with 191 units sold.

We have seen a decrease in sales as a result of the Phase 2 Heightened Alert measures that began on May 16. During this time period, viewers were only permitted to view a film once.

New measures were implemented in response to an increase in virus infections, such as prohibiting groups of two or more people from viewing properties (such as salespeople).

A year ago, during the circuit breaker period, the decline in sales volume was only 25%.

“Increased Alert had no discernible effect on sales. The industry may have benefited from the use of virtual viewings in terms of revenue retention by being more prepared for disruption.” Mark Yip, CEO of Huttons Asia, stated, “

Without restrictions on showflat viewing, Mr. Yip asserts that sales in May would have been “significantly higher.”

According to Ms. Sun, sales performance improved this year because property developers and sales agents were better prepared to maintain business continuity in the face of increased restrictions.

Five of the top five most sold projects in May were located in Bern, with One Bernam topping the list with 83 units sold, followed by Treasure in Tampines, Normanton Park in Midwood, and Affinity in Serangoon.

According to May sales figures, ten units were sold for at least S$10 million each. The most expensive unit in Park Nova was a 548-square-meter 20th-floor apartment that sold for S$34.4 million.

OUTLOOK 3 is activated as part of the Heightened Alert phase.

Sales may resume once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and Singapore achieves Phase 3 status (Heightened Alert).

I predict that June will see the same number of sales as May, assuming that the loosened COVID-19 measures of up to five in a group translate into pent-up demand that results in actual sales.

Ms. Sun stated that as more restrictions are eased, new home sales may increase.

“There have been a number of HDB owners who have recently sold their flats,” she explained, “which may indicate that upgrader demand will continue to be strong, which will likely help to raise the new sales market.”

How can tenants and landlords resolve fair wear and tear issues with rental property?

SINGAPORE: After seven years staying in Singapore, Ms Ngo was eager to move to Canada with her husband and infant.

However, when they terminated their two-year lease on a rental flat in Singapore, they encountered difficulties with their landlord.

Their landlord withdrew approximately S$2,000 from their S$3,600 two-month deposit for damage to the unit, as well as the expense of thorough cleaning and a prorated agent’s charge.

Among the damage claimed were sink crack lines, tile discoloration, and staining on the kitchen top.

The landlord also mentioned the need to replace the toilet bowl seat, the cooker hood bulb, and repair a toilet light, according to Ms Ngo, who declined to give her full name.

“I was astounded that (the landlord) was so demanding when we handed over,” she told CNA over phone from Canada.

She and her spouse are arguing that several of the concerns are the result of “fair wear and tear.”

Fair wear and tear, according to real estate brokers and attorneys, refers to damage to property caused by normal use of the premises.

This could include worn-out edges on furniture, scratches and marks on parquet floors, curtain colors fading in direct sunlight, and oil and fume stains on a kitchen hood.

“A landlord cannot deduct these costs from the deposit since it is unrealistic to expect the property to be in the same condition at the end of the tenancy as it was at the start,” said Ms Victoria Lee Soo Pin, a counsel at IRB Law.

She noted, however, that damage such as a burned or badly discolored carpet, a misplaced key caused by an overflowing bathtub or sink can be recovered from the deposit.

If a dining chair is “irreparably broken” as part of a set, the landlord can claim the cost of replacing a single chair, Ms Lee said. However, the landlord cannot demand the full cost of the set.

TENANT AND LANDLORD RESPONSIBILITIES

IRB Law handles approximately 50 to 60 landlord-tenant matters per month, Ms Lee said.

She noted that common difficulties include landlords refusing to refund lease deposits for issues such as broken things and odors in the residence.

“In fact, we see more instances of genuine damage when equipment such as the air conditioner, washing machine, or television breaks down during the tenancy,” she explained.

Cleaning is another frequent source of contention, as it can be a “subjective problem,” she added. “Some cases of normal wear and tear might be enhanced by a thorough cleaning.”

Ms Lee observed that tenancy agreements typically include a clause requiring a property to be cleaned to a professional quality upon a tenant’s departure. While this quality may vary depending on the original condition of the home, it generally entails cleaning to a “very high degree,” she explained.

When tenants return a property, they should submit a comprehensive invoice from the cleaner to demonstrate that the place has been cleaned, Ms Lee added.

Occasionally, tenants misunderstand their obligations, according to Ms Lee. For example, tenants are often responsible for changing light bulbs once they vacate the premises.

In terms of landlords, some believe they can spend the tenant’s security deposit to undertake general repairs.

“The deposit is the tenant’s property and should be repaid at the end of the term. Deductions from tenancy deposits should be negotiated and agreed upon by both parties,” she explained.

LANDLORDS AND TENANTS CAN PROTECT THEMSELVES

Ms Ngo stated that she investigated the house prior to moving in, but “not as thoroughly” as it came empty.

“In the past, I’ve frequently had issues with the landlord’s furniture. I’ve never had an issue with the wall, toilet, or sink… As a result, I wasn’t paying close attention because the unit arrived empty,” she explained to CNA.

She also did not snap many shots, as the subjects “weren’t obvious” or were not subjects she generally paid attention to. As a result, she lacks photographs of the objects or issues in dispute with her landlord.

Disputes over reasonable wear and tear are a “regular occurrence,” according to Propnex chief executive officer Lim Yong Hock. “It’s a regular occurrence, particularly if they weren’t extremely specific at the time of handover.”

At the point of handing over, there are basically two reports, according to KnightFrank property agent. The condition report should be as detailed as feasible and accompanied by photographs.

When tenants move in, it is recommended that they snap numerous photographs and email them to the landlord to ensure the landlord acknowledges the condition.

Tenants should promptly report any incidents that occur during the lease, he stressed.

It is also critical for tenants, landlords, and brokers to establish realistic expectations for potential damage, according to Mr Yeo.

He mentioned, for example, a frequent disagreement over walls with scuffs near electrical switches. Certain landlords may require renters to repaint an entire wall or perhaps the entire house.

“So it’s best to specify this at the start of the tenancy agreement – regarding the walls, do you need me to repaint the entire space or can I return it to you with a few scuffs?,” Mr Yeo explained.

He provided another illustration of parquet flooring. Period certain flaws are to be expected after a while, some landlords may demand the floor to be in “showroom condition,” he explained.

Chemical cleaning of air-conditioning units may also be a point of contention.

“Perhaps it is beneficial if everyone creates a checklist and states that these are all the potential problems; we should clarify,” he remarked.

The leasing agreement should include a summary of crucial points to ensure tenants are fully informed, according to Ms Lee. “The tenants should understand what they are and are not permitted to do.”

Additionally, she continued, a competent property agent should educate tenants on what constitutes misuse.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE AGENT

When Ms Ngo and her hubby received the damage charges, they attempted to explain the situation to the agent by stating that certain materials were more stain-prone.

She stated that despite their attempts to negotiate a share of the costs, particularly for wear and tear, the landlord was adamant in his refusal to budge.

Ms Ngo then informed the agent that she had retained a third party to mediate and that they would pursue the matter through the Small Claims Tribunal.

“From that moment forward, he ceased any contact with us. He never read any of our WhatsApp messages, which served as our sole mode of communication. When we attempted to contact him via WhatsApp, he did not respond,” she explained.

Mr Lim of Propnex asserts that agents are not obligated to mediate issues between renters and landlords.

“According to the CEA (Council for Estate Agents), the agent’s obligation stops when we hand over the premises to the parties,” he explained, adding that such disagreements are typically settled without the agent’s involvement.

Agents may become engaged, however, if renters or landlords write to the authorities to lodge a complaint against the agent, he observed.

According to Mr Yeo’s experience, agents “typically (end up as) the punching bag,” and they will need to manage both parties’ expectations.

What can i do in the event of a dispute?

When renters and landlords disagree, they can file a claim with the Small Claims Tribunal or attempt mediation, according to Mr Yeo.

Agents are unable to assist in resolving conflicts, Mr Lim stated, adding that agents typically send parties to an independent mediator.

Tenants should evaluate many considerations if they disagree with their landlord’s estimate of property damage, according to Ms Lee.

This comprises the property’s age and condition at the start of the tenancy, the duration of the tenancy or lease, and the number of occupants.

For example, wear and tear over a five-year tenancy will be larger than over a six-month tenancy, and a family of five with little children will cause more wear and tear than a young professional couple who are out working the majority of the day, she explained.

If there is damage to the property, the landlord should attempt to repair or clean the item before disposing of it and forcing the renter to pay for a replacement.

When an item needs to be changed, the landlord should avoid replacing it with a more expensive one, as they are not allowed to benefit from it, according to Ms Lee.

“It is the landlord’s responsibility to establish that the renter harmed the object through overuse. This may entail obtaining contractors to determine if there has been misuse and providing a quote to fix the damage,” she noted.

“If the parties remain at odds, see if a third party, such as the property agent who rented the unit, may act as a go-between.”

How Singapore’s housing landscape may change as a result of population changes

SINGAPORE : Experts believe smaller apartments and units with shorter leases will play a bigger role in Singapore’s future housing landscape as it adapts to changing demographics.

According to the last census, the average household comprised fewer people, although the total number of households has increased over the past decade.

This is in response to the increase in complaints about second-hand smoke in the neighbourhood as more people work from home during the COVID -19 pandemic, said Ms Sim Ann, Bukit Timah Division’s grassroots consultant.

The booths will remain on site for at least a year to allow evaluation of their effectiveness. After a Townhall discussion with more than 70 residents from these settlements, the grassroots team decided to continue the trial.

Residents expressed support for the smoking booths, but noted that their design would have to be “more than simple” to be successful, Ms. Sim said.

“Our hypothesis is that smokers would regularly prefer a smoking booth to smoking in their own homes if it was conveniently located and at least as comfortable as the smokers’ home, if not more so. The main obstacle to overcome is the heat during the day, according to a press release from Bukit Timah Constituency Office.

At Trivelis, the smoker’s booth measures about 3 metres by 2.5 metres and is air-conditioned. Smoking Cabin SG designed the unit, which is enclosed and equipped with a filtration system. Similar booths have been used at other sites, including One-North.

The booth at Clementi Ridges is an open-air facility designed by ST Engineering. It measures approximately 4 m x 3 m. It is equipped with a cooling system that runs for 15 minutes at the push of a button.

“It uses extremely sustainable cooling, and we have open ventilation, which ensures a very clean and comfortable environment for users and non-users,” said Gareth Tang, senior vice president of urban environmental solutions for the company.

“The system uses very little energy and produces no waste heat. In fact, it costs only 30 cents per hour to operate and almost nothing on standby,” he added.

According to Ms. Sim, donors have covered the cost of setting up and powering these rooms.

Due to COVID -19 security clearances, each unit can only accommodate four people, and users must cheque in through TraceTogether.

In the Trivelis unit, the smoking booth is equipped with a closed circuit television (CCTV) camera.

Ms. Sim stated that the authorities are prepared to close the units if overcrowding becomes a problem.

This is not the first time designated smoking areas have been tested in public housing developments. Similar pavilions have already been set up in the Nee Soon South constituency for this purpose.

However, the Minister for Sustainability and Environment Grace Fu said in a written parliamentary reply in February that recent observations indicated that such measures had not reduced public feedback on smoking.

Ms Sim said in a press release on Wednesday: “While we cannot predict the outcome of the experiment (designated smoking spot), we need to find a practical solution to reduce the impact of second-hand smoke in residential areas, as long as smoking remains legal in the home.”

Residents interviewed by CNA expressed support for the establishment of these designated smoking areas.

“The design is quite acceptable, and it’s nice to have seating,” said Mr. Palani, a 41-year-old resident who used the shelter Clementi Ridges.

Ms. Carina Low, a resident of the development and a non-smoker, added, “I think it’s a really nice gesture for the neighbours.” Occasionally when my neighbours smoke, I can smell the smoke from my balcony, which is quite irritating.”

Mr Wang, a resident of the Trivelis estate who used the cabin, said the air conditioning was particularly useful on hot, sunny days.

He continued, “I think (the fireproof ashtray) would also help with littering… And it could help eliminate fire hazards.”

Mr. Menezes, another resident, agreed that the device was a “great idea” because it would encourage smokers to refrain from smoking at home.

However, he added: “To attract people, a walkway or shelter would be ideal when it’s raining – but that might be asking too much!”

Asked if these booths could be extended to other settlements across the island, Ms Sim, who is also Senior Minister Permanent Secretary for National Development, said the results of the trials would have to be studied first.

To this end, the Ministry of Sustainability and Environment will work with Temasek Polytechnic to evaluate the effectiveness of these designated smoking points.

“I see this as another possible way to address the problem of secondhand smoke… However, I believe that this is not something that can be decided by a single authority and needs to be discussed,” Ms Sim said.

She added that metrics such as usage rates and complaints about secondhand smoke could be tracked.