SINGAPORE: The completion of the Dairy Farm Residences condominium saw a wave of dissatisfaction among property owners, triggered by an unexpected surge in monthly maintenance fees.
Responding to residents’ complaints, the management decided to reduce the fees by approximately 40 per cent.
This move came as a relief to homeowners who had expressed discontent over fees that were more than double the amounts communicated during their property purchase.
In early October, residents receiving their Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) letters were taken aback to discover that the maintenance fees required surpassed the initially marketed figures.
According to CNA, the marketing brochure outlined the estimated monthly maintenance costs for two-bedroom and most three-bedroom units to be between S$260 and S$280 (US$195 to US$210).
For three-bedroom and four-bedroom units, the estimated fees ranged from S$320 to S$350 (US$239 to US$261).
Notably, the brochure did not clarify whether these prices included Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Residents in the lower bracket found themselves paying close to S$4,300 (US$3,218) for six months, translating to more than S$700 (US$523) per month.
Meanwhile, residents with four-bedroom flats and certain three-bedroom units were facing monthly fees exceeding S$850 (US$636).
Following the revision, residents will now incur slightly more than S$427 and S$513 (US$319 to US$384) per month for maintenance fees based on their unit type, inclusive of an 8 per cent GST.
In response to inquiries from CNA, the developer, United Engineers, disclosed that it had received approval from the Building and Construction Authority for the revised monthly maintenance charges on 23 November.
A legal letter from the law firm Lee & Lee, representing UEL, dated 24 November, was sent to property owners, divulging the revised figures approved by the Building and Construction Authority on 23 November.
The letter acknowledged that the initially projected fees were higher than expected at the time of the launch, providing options for residents who had made advance payments.
United Engineers clarified that the initially higher maintenance charges were based on budgetary estimates from external consultants.
Subsequent feedback led them to seek approval for a reduction, and since early October, the developer actively engaged consultants and contractors, emphasizing the time-consuming nature of the process to revise charges.
The developer informed residents about the revised fees and offered options for those who had made advance payments, providing either a refund of the surplus or offsetting the excess against future maintenance charges.
Residents advocating for transparency amidst concerns
The response from residents to the reduction in monthly maintenance fees at Dairy Farm Residences was generally positive, although many chose to remain anonymous due to concerns about potential legal consequences.
Expressing relief and satisfaction, residents welcomed the adjustment, citing it as a significant improvement from the initially presented rates.
An engineer in his 30s, identified as Mr Tan, expressed relief and noted that while the revised amount still deviated from initial estimates, it appeared more reasonable, especially when considering inflation and recent developments in the real estate market.
Another resident, a 37-year-old business owner, described the revised fees as “more manageable” and in alignment with market rates.
However, she raised a crucial question about the significant reduction, pointing out potential discrepancies in the developer’s earlier justification for the higher fees due to inflation.
Concerns over sudden 40% fee reduction
After reviewing online comments on CNA’s Facebook post, it’s clear that netizens raised valid concerns regarding the sudden 40% reduction in fees.
Many questioned whether the fees could have been initially set at a lower rate and expressed scepticism about the management potentially overcharging residents.
A netizen highlighted that such a drastic reduction raises red flags and prompts the need for an investigative committee to understand why the fees were set so high from the outset.
He said the abrupt fluctuation in management fees is seen as unhealthy, akin to a domino effect where other condominiums might follow suit, leading to continuous fee hikes.
One netizen expressed suspicion, highlighting the ease with which the management implemented a high fee only to swiftly slash it by 40%.
The call for transparency is resounding, with demands for a thorough explanation regarding this concerning situation.
Residents express outrage over soaring maintenance fees at dairy farm residences
Dairy Farm Residences condo owners found themselves facing discontent as a result of an unexpected spike in maintenance fees, a revelation brought to light by a Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) letter received by a resident on 9 October.
The letter, issued by lawyers representing the developer, United Engineers, not only requested an upfront payment of six months of maintenance fees but also included survey fees for inspecting the flat’s condition and value.
This unexpected development left residents realizing that the maintenance fees were more than double the initially expected amount, leading to heightened frustration among those affected.
Dairy Farm Residences, celebrated as the first integrated development in the Dairy Farm area, experienced a surge in discontent among residents due to the abrupt increase in maintenance fees.
This led to various actions being taken by concerned homeowners.
A Change.org petition, initiated on 10 October, garnered more than 600 signatures, reflecting the collective dissatisfaction.
Simultaneously, a group of around 20 residents actively engaged with United Engineers, seeking clarification on the fee increase and exploring possibilities for reduction.
Discussions ensued between residents and the developer, and as of early November, reports indicated that United Engineers was working with authorities on a set of revised maintenance fees, pending review and approval.
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