The Housing Developers (Control and Licensing) (Amendment) Act 2013 (“Amendment Act”) will come into operation on 25 May 2015 (pursuant to the Housing Developers (Control and Licensing) (Amendment) Act 2013 (Commencement) Notification 2015). First passed by Parliament on 8 April 2013, the Ministry of National Development (“MND”) has since that time worked on the subsidiary legislation to effect the policy changes embodied in the Amendment Act. It has, accordingly, also issued the following related subsidiary legislation:
- the Planning (Development of Land Authorisation) (Amendment) Notification 2015;
- the Housing Developers (Show Unit) Rules 2015; and
- the Housing Developers (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2015.
This Update summarises the key changes to be introduced.
Amendments to Transaction Documents
Key changes to transaction documents
The Option to Purchase and the Sale and Purchase Agreement, which are standard forms prescribed under the Housing Developers Rules, will be amended. The key changes effected by the Housing Developers (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2015 include the following:
- Developers must indicate the value of any benefits offered to buyers.
- If the purchaser sells the unit to another person, that person may exercise the rights of the purchaser in relation to the defects liability period.
- The developer is required to state the floor to ceiling height in the Sale and Purchase Agreement (Form 5).
- Optional clauses in Form 5 (Sale and Purchase Agreement) now include specific clauses dealing with restrictions on the purchaser as to the use and enjoyment pending formation of the management corporation and a requirement for the purchaser to give access for the purpose of carrying out maintenance and upkeep of the building facade.
Amendments take effect on 20 July 2015
The amendments to the forms will take effect on 20 July 2015. Transitional provisions provide for the use of the old forms where an option to purchase has been granted before 20 July 2015 but exercised after 20 July 2015.
Requirements for Show Units
Example of the new requirements
The Housing Developers (Show Unit) Rules set out regulations on show units provided by developers. The new requirements come into effect on 20 July 2015, and include the following:
- The floor area of the show unit must be the same as the depicted unit.
- If any part of an external or load bearing wall is not erected in the show unit on account of the requirement of any law or for the purpose of providing access to and from the show unit, the location, thickness, and width of the removed wall must be clearly marked and indicated on the floor with solid lines.
- All erected walls must be of the same thickness as that shown in the approved plans.
- If any internal non-structural wall is not built in the show unit, the position, thickness, and width of the removed wall must be clearly marked and indicated on the floor with solid lines.
- A drawn-to-scale floor plan of the show unit must be displayed at the entrance to the show unit.
- Any models of the housing project displayed must be based on the approved plans.
- A list of materials, finishes, fittings, and appliances which will be provided in the actual unit must be displayed in the show unit.
Exemption for existing units
Existing show units which have been erected, set up, and made available for viewing before 20 July 2015 will be exempted from the new show unit requirements. However, the developer must lodge with the Controller of Housing (“Controller”) a declaration of this fact. This declaration is to be made in a prescribed form. The declaration must be made no later than 23 July 2015 (i.e., three working days after 20 July 2015). If there are differences between the existing show unit and the actual unit as shown in the approved building plan, the developer must do the following:
- Lodge a detailed list and description of the differences with the Controller;
- Prominently display a detailed list and description of the differences at the entrance of the show unit;
- Give purchasers a copy of the detailed list and description of the differences; and
- Obtain a written acknowledgement by the intending purchaser that he has received a copy of the detailed list and description of the differences before accepting the booking fee for an option to purchase a unit in the building project.
Requirements have also been specified for location plans, site plans, and models of building projects, as well as models of units in a building project.
Other Miscellaneous Amendments
Weekly Collection and Publication of Transaction Data
Information to be submitted to Controller
Housing developers must submit detailed transaction information (for the seven-day period from Monday to Sunday) to the Controller every week by 10 am every Friday. If Friday is a gazetted public holiday, the deadline will be 10 am on the next working day i.e., Monday of the following week. The information to be submitted includes, among other things, sales volumes (inclusive of sale of units which have been aborted) and transacted prices of individual units in their building projects, and the value of any benefits extended to buyers. This information will be published on the Urban Redevelopment Authority website weekly from 5 June 2015. The failure of the developer to furnish information by the deadline is grounds for the Controller to revoke or suspend its licence.
Governance of Housing Developers
Capital, persons holding responsible positions, and accounts
The Amendment Act implements the following measures to enhance the corporate governance of housing developers:
- The minimum paid up capital required of a housing developer has been increased from S$100,000 to S$1 million.
- Persons who have been convicted of, or have served a sentence of imprisonment for, a fraud or dishonesty-related offence in or outside Singapore, are debarred from holding or continuing to hold responsible positions in a licensed housing developer for a period of five years.
- Developers must make public their audited financial positions. Previously, the Housing Developers (Control and Licensing) Act required a developer to publish its last audited balancesheet and profit and loss account. Now a developer must submit its audited accounts and the report of its auditor to the Controller. The developer must also allow the public to freely inspect the accounts and report for a period of 24 months either via the internet or at its place of business.
Regulation of the Marketing and Promotion of Residential Units
The MND has been empowered to set rules regulating the marketing and promotion of residential units. At the moment, no rules have been issued. However, the MND has indicated that such rules might cover matters such as the regulation of the practice of collecting blank cheques from prospective buyers as a form of advance booking for a residential unit.
Increase of Penalties for Non-Compliance
The Amendment Act substantially increases the monetary penalties for non-compliance. For example, the maximum fine imposed on developers who fail to comply with any of the conditions laid out in their licences has been raised from S$20,000 to S$100,000; they could also be subject to an imprisonment term of up to three years.