20 December 2018
Changes to the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act (“BMSMA”) to improve the framework for strata management and maintenance by enhancing the governance of management corporations (“MCSTs”) and providing clarity on the rules, and to safeguard the interests of subsidiary proprietors (“SPs”), will largely come into force on 1 February 2019. Some changes relating to the use and maintenance of lifts and escalators will come into force on 14 December 2018.
There are a few provisions which are not yet in force. Among others, these relate to the new provisions on official management of MCSTs and the appointment of an official manager.
By way of background, the Building Maintenance and Strata Management (Amendment) Bill 2017 was passed in Parliament on 11 September 2017. The BMSMA applies to all strata-titled developments in Singapore and provides the legal framework for the collective ownership of common property by SPs of units in such developments and joint responsibility for the upkeep of shared areas.
The following are some of the key amendments to the BMSMA.
Setting clear boundaries for good governance and transparency
- Require that developers not only convene the first annual general meeting (“AGM”), but chair it as well. This is in light of feedback that some developers have devolved the duty of presiding over the first AGM to managing agents, leading some SPs to feel their concerns on matters such as workmanship defects were not expeditiously conveyed to the developer.
- Require developers to transfer a positive balance of funds to the MCST to ensure MCSTs do not have to take over deficits for which they are not responsible.
- Where prefabricated bathroom units are installed, require developers to hand over the manufacturer’s manuals to the MCST. This is in addition to other important documents such as as-built drawings and warranties. This will help SPs maintain the installations in their lots in future.
- Prohibit council members from holding more than one of the following offices concurrently - Chairperson, Secretary, and Treasurer. However, there will be exemptions for MCSTs constituted for strata title plans with 10 or fewer lots. These are set out in the Building Maintenance and Strata Management (Small Management Corporations - Exemption) Order 2018.
Safeguarding the interests of SPs
- More safeguards are put in place to protect the interests of SPs. One such measure empowers the Commissioner of Buildings to place an MCST under official management when there is a failure in management and operation. This provision is not yet in force.
- A limit will be placed on the number of proxies that one can hold. An appointed proxy can only represent a maximum of two lots or 2% of the total number of lots in the development, whichever is higher. Further, directed proxy voting is introduced whereby the proxy giver may expressly direct his proxy to vote as he intended.
- To ensure fair representation, each class of use in a mixed-use development will be given a reserved seat in the council.
- MCSTs can no longer disallow installations of safety equipment such as grilles installed at windows or balconies. Section 37A expressly provides that an SP of a lot in a building on a parcel comprised in a strata title plan may install safety equipment on the lot, or as part of any window, door or opening on the lot which is facing outdoors, despite any provision of the BMSMA or the regulations or any by-law of the parcel which prohibits the installation of such safety equipment. However, the SP must ensure that the safety equipment installed has an appearance in keeping with the appearance of the building.
Clarifying existing provisions to facilitate stakeholders’ understanding of their roles and responsibilities
- The BMSMA will provide that “common property” includes shared building services like fire sprinklers and central air-conditioning systems, as well as structural elements like beams and floor slabs, even if they are physically within one lot. External walls, roofs or façades of a building will also be made part of the common property, provided they are being used or enjoyed by occupiers of two or more lots.
- It will be clarified that the responsibility for maintenance and repair of such services and structural elements is on the MCST and not individual SPs, unless the individual SPs were responsible for the damage.
The Building Maintenance and Strata Management (Amendment) Act 2017 is available from the Singapore Statutes Online website sso.agc.gov.sg.
The following Order and Regulations which will come into operation on 1 February 2019 are also available on the Singapore Statutes Online website:
- Building Maintenance and Strata Management (Small Management Corporations - Exemption) Order 2018
- Building Maintenance and Strata Management (Strata Units) (Amendment) Regulations 2018
- Building Maintenance and Strata Management (Composition of Offences) (Amendment) Regulations 2018
- Building Maintenance (Strata Management) (Amendment) Regulations 2018