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     NEWS SNIPPETS

     2007

 

Five schools to pilot boarding programmes for students

Five schools will be piloting various models of boarding programmes starting from 2008, to support the all-round development of their students...
Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) Year 1 – Year 4 Integrated Programme (IP) students will board together to forge bonds across levels, through activities such as inter-hall games. Each IP student will board for at least two semesters in total.
Hwa Chong Institution Sec 3, Sec 4, JC1 and JC2 students will have the opportunity to board together on an optional basis, to forge bonds across levels. Boarding will take place for one term (3 months)...

More.....

 

MAS issues revised property fund guidelines

The revised Guidelines are intended to improve safeguards for investors and to provide greater clarity and flexibility for commercial transactions...
MAS will amend the Securities and Futures Act (SFA) to include REIT management as a regulated activity...

More.....

 

HDB introduces family season parking ticket from 1 Oct 2007

The Family SPT is for HDB residents who require SPT to two different car parks because of family arrangements...
For such residents, who have already bought a regular SPT to park at their own residential car park, there is a need for a second SPT to park at another car park for visiting their parents, children, grandparents, siblings or their in-laws.
The Family SPT will be sold at 50% of the regular SPT price applicable to the car park where the Family SPT is to be purchased.

More.....

 

Formula One (F1) levy on hotel room revenues

"Following consultation with the Singapore Hotel Association (SHA), the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) has decided on the following rates for the Formula One (F1) levy on hotel room revenues:
a. 30% of the total revenues from rooms and room packages for trackside hotels; and
b. 20% of the total revenues from rooms and room packages for all other tourist hotels[1]..."

More.....

 

HDB releases public housing data

"30% of all resale cases in 2nd Quarter 2007 were transacted at or below valuation, with an overall median Cash-Over-Valuation (COV) of about $7,000...
"The number of resale transactions increased by 38% from 6,300 cases in 1st Quarter 2007 to 8,700 cases in 2nd Quarter 2007 (see Annex D).

"This is indicative of a more active HDB resale market, and the availability of more resale flats to meet the location and flat type preferences of flat buyers..."

More.....

 

Iconic Hotel Phoenix closes on 1 August 2007

"In line with the major construction that is happening on our neighbouring sites, the owners of Hotel Phoenix Singapore will be discontinuing operations at the Hotel on 1 August 2007 for a refurbishment.

"While we are sad to do so after 35 years of operations, we believe the refurbishment of Hotel Phoenix will add value to the rejuvenation of Orchard Road and contribute to the Government's vision of strengthening Orchard Road's appeal as a major retail, commercial and entertainment belt..."

More.....

 

Revision of Development Charge (DC)

"The DC was lowered from 70% to 50% in 1985 to avoid eroding the share of value enhancement that accrued to developers in a declining market.

"With the current buoyant property market, the converse is true. Thus, the Government has decided to reinstate the DC to its original rate at 70%..."

More.....

 

Banks to adopt new guidelines on home loans

"These guidelines provide customers with clear disclosures on the use of home loan board rates, the financial indicator(s) against which these rates are benchmarked, and the basis for the change in the rates over time...

"The new guidelines are applicable to loans taking effect from 15 June 2007 and not to loans committed before that..."

More.....

 

1st Quarter 2007 Real Estate Statistics

"Overall prices of private residential properties rose 4.8% in the 1st Quarter 2007, compared with the 3.8% increase in the previous quarter

"Prices of non-landed properties rose 5.3% in the 1st Quarter 2007, compared with the 4.3% increase in the previous quarter. Prices of apartments rose 5.1% while those of condominiums rose 5.4%..."

More.....

 

Singaporeans can sign up for GST Credits from 15 May 2007

"2.4 million Singaporeans will be eligible for $650 million of GST Credits and Senior Citizens Bonus in 2007...
"Eligible Singaporeans will receive a letter from the CPF Board by 15 May 2007 on how much GST Credits/Senior Citizens’ Bonus they can receive and how to sign up.
"From 15 May 2007, Singaporeans can sign up at any DBS/POSB/UOB/OCBC ATM or through the GST Offset Package website at www.gstoffset.gov.sg. They need to do so by 25 June 2007 to get the GST Credits/Senior Citizens’ Bonus if they would like to receive these on 1 July 2007..."

More.....

 

 

 

HDB further relaxes policy on subletting of whole flats

"With immediate effect, HDB will be relaxing its policy on the subletting of whole flats through a further reduction of the MOP and delinking it from the lessees’ HDB loan status. The revised MOP is:
"5 years for owners of subsidised flats, i.e. flats purchased directly from HDB or from the open market with a CPF Housing Grant; and

3 years for owners of non-subsidised flats, i.e. flats purchased from the open market without a CPF Housing Grant..."

More.....

 

     2006

    - Withdrawal of 1998 off-budget concession on stamp duty deferment

     - Three years of free Wi-Fi for Singapore from 1 Dec 2006

     - Map-based information service on land ownership available online

 

Rates for HDB rental flats to be pegged to household income

"Starting from 1 Mar 07, HDB will align the rental for its flats to the household income of the tenants.
"Tenants whose monthly income is $800 and below will continue to pay the 1st-tier rent. Similarly, tenants who rented their flats after 1 Oct 2003 and whose monthly income is between $801 and $1500 will continue to pay the current 2nd-tier rent.
"However, tenants whose income has since risen above these levels will be required to pay higher rent based on their new income levels..."

More.....

     - 3rd Quarter 2006 real estate statistics

     - Flat buyers taking an HDB loan need HDB loan eligibility letter

 

 

Key challenges facing public housing in Singapore

"Between now and 2030, the number of elderly aged 65 years or older will increase dramatically, from 300,000 to 900,000. 1 in 5 Singaporeans will be aged 65 and above by 2030.
"We will need to provide a wide range of housing options to meet the different financial needs and lifestyle preferences of the elderly, from smaller HDB flats like studio apartments, to private retirement housing with dedicated care facilities..."

More.....

 

     - Expat survey shows Singapore best place in the world for Asians to live

     - ICA raid in 2 HDB blocks nets 33 immigration offenders

     - Singapore Public Holidays 2007 - Tentative List

     2005

     - Pay half-hourly rates for night parking at HDB/URA carparks

     - Small Claims Tribunal to cover short-term residential tenancy agreements

 

Recovery of the Property Market

"The property market recovery is not confined to the private housing sector. All the other sectors of the property market are recovering in tandem with the strong growth of our economy...

"In 2006, Singapore’s GDP is projected to grow by another 3% to 5%. Robust growth in the manufacturing, tourism and financial sectors, and the diversification of our economy into new areas like the life sciences, education and health, are helping to drive growth in our economy..."

More.....

 

Study Mum Situation in Singapore

"As at end Jul 05, there were about 6,800 study mothers in Singapore of whom some two-thirds were from the PRC...

"As at end Jun 05, less than 1,000 study mothers were holding Work Permits..."

More.....

     - Transit passengers at Changi Airport get to explore Singapore

     - Singapore voted world's Best Business City

 

Review of housing options for the elderly

"To encourage extended family living, HDB will extend the $12,000 monthly income ceiling to extended families buying resale HDB flats with the CPF Housing Grant. The revised policy will apply with immediate effect...

"To facilitate the elderly to buy SAs, buyers aged at least 55 years will now be able to use their CPF to buy SAs after they have set aside at least the full cash component of their Minimum Sum...

More.....

     - Key Survey Findings on Services Sector 2003

     - Private sector to build and sell HDB flats

     - 2nd Quarter 2005 Real Estate Statistics

  

Policy changes affecting the property market

-

increase the housing financing limit to 90% of the property value

-

lower the cash payment for private residential properties from 10% to 5%

-

allow CPF members to use their CPF savings to purchase private residential properties with remaining leases of 30 to 60 years

-

allow non-related singles to use their CPF savings to jointly purchase private residential properties

-

phase out the Non-Residential Properties Scheme (NRPS) by 1 Jul 2006

-

allow foreigners to purchase apartments in non-condominium developments of less than 6 levels without the need to obtain prior approval

More.....

     - Raffles Hotel to be sold to US-based investment fund

     - HDB Sample Household Survey 2003

 

      - 1st Quarter 2005 Real Estate Statistics

     - CCTVs to be used in parts of Geylang to combat vice

     - HDB Resale Flats: HDB-assigned valuers for bank loan cases

     - Tentative List of Singapore Public Holidays for 2006

     - Singapore Tourism Board aims for 8.9 million visitors in 2005

     - Singapore tourism targeted to net S$30 billion by 2015

     - No first-year cash rebates for housing loans from 6 Jan 2005

     2004

     - Monday with the Editor: Hello Singapore

    - CPF Changes from 1 January 2005

 

Oriental Singapore reopens for business

Oriental Singapore reopens for business today, after a multi-million dollar makeover. About 90 of its 527 rooms are available currently, with the rest expected to be available by the end of the first quarter of 2005.

Source: Straits Times 1 Dec 2004 (H11)

     - Government launches Unclaimed Monies Web site

 

Amendments to the Immigration Act

"..anyone who assists the landlord in the renting of his premises to an immigration offender in return for any reward, is presumed to have assisted, encouraged or induced the landlord to provide shelter to the immigration offender.

Such a middleman will need to also conduct the 3 due diligence checks when they help the landlords to rent out their premises to foreign tenants.

Those convicted will be liable to mandatory imprisonment of 6 months to two years as well as a fine not exceeding $6,000.

More.....

 

Singapore voted No. 1 city in the world

Readers of Conde Nast Traveller, an award-winning US-based travel magazine, have voted Singapore as the world's best city in its latest annual survey.

Source: Straits Times 21 Sep 2004 (3)

 

      -  MAS specifies procedures under current housing loan rules

 

Unsafe casement windows to be retrofitted

Homeowners whose windows are five years old or more and are fitted with aluminium rivets must retrofit these windows by October 2005. Windows in landed homes and those on the lowest level of buildings are exempted.

Source: Straits Times 2 Sep 2004 (3)

     - Singles can buy any type of resale HDB flats from 15 Sep 2004

Bank's mortgagee sale of HDB flat a first

OCBC Bank has put a 3-room HDB flat up for sale, the first mortgagee sale by a bank since the HDB home loan market was opened to banks on 1 Jan 2003. OCBC's head of consumer secured lending, Mr Gregory Chan, said it had put the HDB flat on the market because the owner had volunteered to give it up. "We have not repossessed any HDB flat, and by that, we mean that we have not forced any HDB home owner to surrender his flat because he defaulted on his loan," he added.

Straits Times 21 Aug 2004 (H10)

 

More backpacker hostels open here

There are 118 establishments, 13 of which are considered backpacker hostels, offering budget accommodation at a daily rate of S$80 or below, according to the Singapore Tourism Board. Six months ago, there were only four backpacker hostels here.

Source: Straits Times 26 Jul 2004 (H2)

     - Why new 4- & 5-room HDB flats are smaller

 

Tenants' rental rebates extended to December 2004

Singapore Land Authority (SLA), Housing & Development Board (HDB), JTC Corporation and the National Environment Agency (NEA) have announced they will extend the current rental rebates until December 2004 to help their tenants tide over the economic slowdown. The rebates from all four are expected to cost the Government over S$171 million.

Source: Straits Times 6 Jul 2004 (6) 

 

Home offices now get 3-year permits

Home office applicants can now apply for 3-year permits, instead of one year, at a time. More than 11,400 home offices have been approved since the scheme started in June 2003. Of this figure, more than 90% are for HDB flats, with 700 for private properties. Most home office operators are in their late 20s to late 30s and have been retrenched.

Source: Straits Times 10 Jun 2004 (H3)

     - HDB launches 50-storey The Pinnacle @ Duxton on 29 May 2004

 

 

 A man died after hitting his head on the bottom of a waist-deep pool at Pebble Bay condominium in Tanjong Rhu Road on 9 May 2004. Mr Tan Teck Chong, 39, had gone there with his girlfriend for a barbecue. (Straits Times 11 May 2004) (H2)

Housing agents without at least 3 'O' Levels have to sell at least two homes in the preceding 12 months before being allowed to sit for the Common Examination for House Agents (Ceha) held here between April 2004 and March 2005. The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) said, "The waiver of three 'O' Levels will not be extended beyond March 2005. (Straits Times 18 Feb 2004) (H2)

The 457-room ANA Hotel in Nassim Hill will shut down in March 2004 as owners CapitaLand plan to put up a condominium on the 11,386 sq m freehold site. All 200 staff members will be retrenched. The hotel was known as Century Park Sheraton Singapore before it was renamed in 1990. (Straits Times 12 Feb 2004) (6)

     2003

     - Government announces new Home Office Scheme

     - Restructuring of HDB

 

 

  82 home offices in restored conservation shophouses in China Square Central have been granted the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) live/work permits. The permit allows people to conduct small-scale businesses that do not involve a lot of traffic, and which are not noisy or pollutive, from their homes if these are within zones that allow for mixed use. (Straits Times 31 Mar 2003)(H5)

  Complaints to the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) against real estate agents climbed from 200 for the whole year of 2000, to 277 between January and October 2002. It received 213 such complaints in 2001. (Straits Times 14 Jan 2003)(H4) 

  The Housing and Development Board (HDB) will build studio flats for the elderly in the same blocks as 3-, 4- and 5-room units. The change follows a HDB survey which showed that people prefer not to have the studios built in separate blocks. Those polled comprised 193 already living in studio flats, 316 potential buyers aged 55 and older, and 290 singles aged between 35 and 54. (Straits Times 14 Jan 2003) (3)

  The Housing and Development Board (HDB) did not repossess a single flat last year although around 4 per cent of borrowers, with about 21,800 families, were considered to have defaulted on their loan instalments for three months or more. (Straits Times 14 Jan 2003) (3)

     2002

 

  The new Build-To-Order (BTO) programme in which flats are built only when there is demand for them replaces the five-year-old queueing system at the HDB. The HDB launched the new scheme yesterday with the sale of 1,466 four-room HDB units in Punggol 21 and Sengkang. No deposit is required under the new BTO system, but applicants who have cancelled a previous booking must pay up the registration deposit still owed before trying again. (Straits Times 16 Dec 2002) (H5)

     Extension of 2001 Off-Budget Measures - Property Tax Rebate and Petrol Excise Duty Reduction

  Minister in the Prime Minister's Office LIM Boon Heng yesterday said that Singapore's executive condominium (EC) scheme should not be scrapped, but work could perhaps be slowed down in view of present market conditions. (Straits Times 11 Nov 2002) (3) 

  The 11-member Land Working Group panel has called for a review of the immensely popular Executive Condominium (EC) Housing scheme - an upmarket hybrid of the Housing Board flat but more affordable than private condos - saying "its continued relevance" has come into question given the falling prices of private residential properties. (Straits Times 7 Nov 2002) (H2)

  From January 2003, a person who wishes to sell his flat bought with bank loans and without a Central provident Fund (CPF) housing grant must have lived in it for at least one year, instead of the present 2˝ years. This will also apply to those who had bought resale flats without housing grants, and who choose to refinance their mortgages with a bank loan. These owners will also be allowed to sublet their entire flats, if they have occupied the flats for 10 years or more. (Straits Times 1 Nov 2002) (H3)

  New housing financing rules from 1 Sep 2002

  Five floors of concrete corridors collapsed at a JTC flatted factory in Toa Payoh North yesterday morning. No one was hurt. The service corridors were used as a fire escape and to hold the air-conditioning units. Developer JTC Corporation said that while its engineers had found the building to be structurally sound, it was arranging to relocate the 22 affected companies to its other flatted factories. (Straits Times 28 Aug 2002) (4)

  The Public Utilities Board (PUB) confirmed yesterday it had written to the Real Estate Development Association of Singapore, to inform it that developers will be required to provide a dedicated pipe system in all new commercial and industrial projects to accept Newater. For those locations where the Newater pipeline network will only be available after 2011, companies need to set aside space for when the new pipelines are laid. By January 2003, more than 68 million litres of Newater will be produced daily. It will go up to more than 250 million litres a day by 2012. (Straits Times 27 Aug 2002) (1)

  From next year, 90,000 HDB flat owners now paying off HDB loans at market rates can also refinance their mortgages with banks. Home loan rates offered by banks are now at a record low, with some offering rates of around 1.5 per cent for the first year, and a second year rate that is lower than 3 per cent. This compares favourably with HDB's market rate of 3.75 per cent a year. Five banks - DBS, UOB, OCBC, Stanchart and HSBC - have said they would only recall such loans as a last resort. (Straits Times 21 Aug 2002) (3)

  The Government will not allow HDB flat owners to use their homes as collateral to take out more loans to increase their cash flow for business or personal use. This is to prevent people from abusing the heavily subsidised public-housing system when the more relaxed rule, which allows some HDB flat owners to turn to banks for loans, starts in January 2003. "We would not like to see anybody borrowing extra, or over the amount required for the flat, to buy a car or go for a holiday," said National Development Minister MAH Bow Tan yesterday. (Straits Times 12 Aug 20020 (1)

  An overseas student was found motionless in the deep end of the pool at Parkview Condominium on 26 Jun 2002. Chinese national ZHANG Yuhua, 22, was pronounced dead at the National University Hospital. (Straits Times 28 Jun 2002) (H2) 

  Hoping to attract more guests, seven hotels in the Havelock area have come together to provide free shuttle services to guests from their hotels to Orchard Road, Chinatown and Shenton Way from Monday. The service which uses 45-seater buses will be offered for two years by: Novotel Apollo Singapore, Copthorne King's Hotel, The Gallery Hotel, Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, Concorde Hotel, Miramar Hotel and Riverview Hotel. (Straits Times 26 Jun 2002) (H4)

  Starting 24 Jun 2002, property developers can submit their building progress reports and even apply for an extension of their construction schedule via the Internet. These are some of the 14 new online services which will be launched by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on its website, www.ura.gov.sg today. (Straits Times 24 Jun 2002) (A19)

  The resale market for three-room HDB flats is hotting up, with buyers willing to pay as much as S$30,000 above the HDB's valuation, especially for flats in places like Ghim Moh, Commonwealth Avenue and Holland Village, which are prime spots for singles. This is despite the current property slump sending the prices of bigger flats sliding. There are more than 223,000 three-room HDB flats islandwide. Supply on the open resale market is limited as the board does not build such flats anymore. (Straits Times 5 Jun 2002) (H1)

  A new Straits Times survey of 500 people between the ages of 20 and 49 has found that two out of three Singaporeans think they are investing too much money in housing. They also want the Central Provident Fund (CPF) scheme to be changed to ensure they have more cash when they retire. (Straits Times 13 May 2002) (4)

  A man who cheated two Chinese nationals out of S$3,450 in rent was jailed for seven months yesterday. TOH Tien Sze, 48, who is unemployed, pleaded guilty to deceiving Ms CHEN Yiting, 17, and Ms SHAO Ye, 38. (Straits Times 17 Apr 2002) (H7)

  LOKE Kim Eng, 34, an undischarged bankrupt, was charged in a district court yesterday with criminal breach of trust. She is the woman who allegedly cheated 70 students from China of nearly S$280,000 in a rent scam. A building construction foreman, CHONG Kim Siap, 41, was also charged yesterday with assisting her in the alleged offence. Both cases will be mentioned again on Friday (Straits Times 14 Apr 2002) (28)

  Recent government pronouncements that Singaporeans were putting too much money into housing has brought about much speculation resulting in a property market on tenterhooks. Some buyers are speeding up their purchases in case the amount of CPF money which they can use gets cut, while others are waiting for a good deal if property prices are driven down by the recommendations. Deputy Prime Minister LEE Hsien Loong said in Parliament on 4 Apr 2002 that some of the Economic Review Committee's (ERC) recommendations on the CPF scheme will be ready in "a couple of months". "We understand that because of the property factor, it's not good to have a long period of uncertainty," he said. (Straits Times 14 Apr 2002) (1)

  A 34-year-old Singaporean woman has been arrested for allegedly cheating 70 students from China of nearly S$280,000 in a rent scam that bears an uncanny resemblance to two recent cases. Police arrested her and a man at a Pasir Ris chalet on Thursday. (Straits Times 13 Apr 2002) (3)

  Only 3,200 out of 16,900 unsold HDB flats in new estates have been taken up by the 11,000 flat-buyers in the Housing Board's queue. The remaining 13,700 flats will now be available to anyone who qualifies for a new HDB flat. They can simply walk in and book a flat without queueing. This month, there will be 1,600 four-room and larger units on offer in Sengkang - tomorrow and on 20 Apr 2002. (Straits Times 9 Apr 2002) (6)

  Landlords and businesses can now verify the identity cards of their tenants or customers through the Internet. The iCHECK facility at the Singapore Immigration and Registration's website (www.sir.gov.sg) allows users to make enquires. But the users must provide some of their particulars. They will also need the other party's identity-card number, the card's date of issue and the person's date of birth. The facility will tell the user whether the identity card is valid or invalid, or whether it has been reported lost. (Straits Times 3 Apr 2002) (H3)

  A hefty fall in two of Singapore's largest expatriate communities in recent years has compounded the woes of the already ailing private home rental markets - with rents diving around 10 per cent last year alone. Figures from the Japanese Embassy show that the number of Japanese expatriates - the biggest expatriate community here - fell to 23,174 last year, down 13.2 per cent from a peak of 26,684 in 1997. And according to the American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham), the number of US-owned companies which are Amcham members has shrunk from 550 just two years ago to 480. The number of Americans registered with the American Embassy is about 16,000. (Straits Times 30 Mar 2002) (S10)

  The number of Chinese students allegedly cheated of rent by a Singaporean woman in a scam is now believed to exceed 100. The woman is believed to have rented more than 20 properties, mainly in the Orchard, River Valley and Bukit Timah areas. A Chinese Embassy official said the embassy has engaged a lawyer to help the students recover their money. (Straits Times 25 Mar 2002) (6)

  More than 20 Chinese students have fallen prey to a Singaporean woman who offered them choice accommodation at cheap rates. They had paid up to 18 months' rent in advance, but later found out that she had not paid the landlords, who were then forced to evict them. A Chinese Embassy official said he had received 12 similar complaints since September last year about the same woman. The students, who were aged about 17 to 18, lost about S$35,000. (Straits Times 19 Mar 2002) (6)

  Now you can check instantly the immigration status of your prospective tenants online. The new Verifi system at Singapore Immigration and Registration's (SIR) website, www.sir.gov.sg , provides immediate verification of a foreigner's status. To do a check, enter your relevant details and those of the foreigner and then click the 'submit' button. In less than a minute, a reference number is given and the outcome can be printed out by the enquirer as proof of your checking. (Straits Times 9 Mar 2002) (H2)  

  From today, the four-star Merchant Court Hotel, located along Clarke Quay, will be known as Swissotel Merchant Court Singapore. The hotel has 476 rooms. (H5)

  The Government plans to review its housing policy in the next one to two years, including its long-term target of having 70 per cent of Singaporeans living in public housing and 30 per cent in private housing. (Straits Times 23 Feb 2002) (1)

  After a two-year refurbishment costing S$40 million, former tourist-oriented Copthorne Harbour View Hotel at Anson Road is now known as M Hotel, with 416 rooms and 44 fully-furnished service offices. M Hotel, now styled as a "new-generation business hotel" opens officially on 22 Feb 2002. (L4)

     2001

 

 

  A study by property consultants Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL) shows that the number of properties "repossessed" by banks and then put up for sale more than tripled to 1,400 this year, compared to the last downturn in 1998. In last year's brighter economic climate, the number of forced sales, also known as mortgagee sales, was 1,102. (Straits Times 27 Dec 2001)(3)

  The latest available Urban Redevelopment authority figures show a rise of about 25.6 per cent in property sales during the period from July to September. There were 2,827 units sold compared to the April-June period when 2,251 units were sold. The sales figures are nowhere near the number of transactions in 1996 when 16,570 homes were sold during the first three quarters of the year. From January to September this year, just 7,395 homes were sold. (Straits Times 30 Nov 2001)(H2)

  Come January, The Chinese High School will open the doors of a new condominium-style boarding house which will accommodate 1,200 students - almost three times the number in Hua Zhong Hostel, the 15-year-old facility it replaces. Boarders will be looked after by ten full-time and 34 part-time boarding masters. The 5-ha complex, consisting of seven six-storey blocks, was built at a cost of S$39.8 million. It will take in students from primary to post-graduate level, most of them foreigners. Boarders do not have to be enrolled at The Chinese High School. Room rates range from S$7,000 a year for a four-bedded room to S$10,000 for a single room. (Straits Times 29 Nov 2001) (4)

  Last year, the Inland Revenue Authority, (Iras), which licenses real-estate agencies, received 237 complaints against housing agents. Between January and October this year, it received 194 complaints. (Straits Times 19 Nov 2001)(H5)

  The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) yesterday relaxed its 20 per cent down payment policy for private home purchases - effectively allowing half of the upfront payment to be deferred until the project is completed. This comes about a fortnight after the Monetary Authority of Singapore said that it had no objections to a deferred payment scheme. (Straits Times 12 Nov 2001)(S14)

  Some housing agents are harrassing clients and lying to them in order to seal deals and secure a commission of 2 per cent in the current weak property market. Mr Edmund Baker, chief executive officer of the Institute of Estate Agents (IEA) says that these agents are resorting to "dirty tactics". He added that some agents also lie to their clients, claiming that the 2 per cent commission is mandatory when it is really negotiable. The Inland Revenue Authority (Iras), which licenses real-estate agencies, received 237 complaints last year, and 194 complaints from January to October this year. (Straits Times 10 Nov 2001)(H1)

  "Presently, each Permanent Resident is limited to one Singapore dollar loan, to purchase a residential property in Singapore for owner-occupation. Foreigners who are not PRs and non-Singapore companies are not allowed to obtain housing loans in Singapore dollars. These restrictions will be lifted with immediate effect. Over the last few years MAS has progressively lifted restrictions on Singapore dollar lending to foreigners which are not critical for stability reasons, and this restriction on Singapore dollar housing loans is one of the few remaining." said DPM LEE Hsien Loong in Parliament on 12 Oct 2001.

  According to the latest figures from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), tax collection for the first five months of the year rose 7 per cent to S$7.85 billion compared to a year ago. Compared to the previous year's increase of 35 per cent to S$7.3 billion over the same period, the latest jump in tax dollars represents a sharp slowdown. GST collections declined 14 per cent, while stamp duty collections plunged 42 per cent, reflecting the sluggish stock market and lifeless property sector. Tax income from betting rose 24 per cent to S$740 million. Income tax revenue rose a modest 9 per cent to nearly S$4.8 billion. Property tax collections surged 66 per cent to cross the S$1 billion mark for the first five months of the year.(Straits Times 25 Jul 2001) (S12)

  Prime Minister GOH Chok Tong yesterday said the Government would let balconies be built over and above the set plot ratio "to give the building occupants the opportunity to create their personal garden in the sky". Developers will get extra space - one-tenth of the maximum plot ratio - solely for balconies. The plot ratio is the amount of covered floor area in a building relative to the entire site area. Developers will still pay for the space - from about S$1,000 to S$5,000 per sq m, depending on location. (Straits Times 27 Jun 2001)

  New HDB flats will be information hubs where residents can enjoy data and telephone points for computers, television sets, fax machines, telephones and other devices in virtually every room in the house. These flats will have new cabling systems, which means that residents can wire up the entire home as a single unit. HDB said that new flats tendered from July 2000 will have six telephone lines and six cable outlets. Flats tendered from January 2000 will have six telephone points and five cable outlets, while those tendered from July 1997 onwards, including some in Jurong West and Sembawang, have five telephone lines and five cable outlets. Some of the new flats will be in Punggol 21 and Sengkang. (Straits Times 23 Jun 2001)

  The four-star Westin Stamford and five-star Westin Plaza hotels will be rebranded as Raffles International hotels on 1 Jan 2002 after having operated 15 years under the Starwood-Westin brand name. The hotels, owned by Raffles International, are now run by US-based Starwood Hotels under a contract which will expire at the end of this year. The Straits Times understands that the 73-storey 1200-room Westin Stamford, which is the world's tallest and Singapore's largest hotel, will be renamed Swissotel Singapore, The Stamford. The name of the 800-room Westin Plaza will be announced next month.(Straits Times 19 Jun 2001)

  Enrol in HDB Resale Seminar - 7 July 2001

  A man who threw a 10-kg stepper exercise machine from his fifth-floor flat in Blk 54 Chai Chee Street was jailed for two months for the rash act. NEO Hock Bee, 41, received his sentence in a magistrate's court yesterday when he pleaded guilty to the offence. (Straits Times 31 May 2001)

  A German hotelier has been appointed Raffles Hotel's general manager, to fill the hot seat vacated by hotel veteran Jennie CHUA. Mr Michael Luible, a 38-year-old bachelor, is the second general manager to head the hotel which many consider an icon of Singapore's hospitality industry. Ms CHUA remains as the hotel's executive director and continues as president and chief operating officer of RHL's hotel management arm, Raffles International. (Straits Times 31 May 2001)

  A man allowed an an immigration offender to stay in his flat at Blk 113 Tao Ching Road in Jurong in August 2000. Yesterday TAN Chuan Tin, 50, was jailed for seven months for harbouring LI Jianhua, 37, an overstayer. (Straits Times 30 May 2001)

  A 72-year-old woman rented out her house in Joo Chiat to Chinese immigration offenders, charging them between S$130 and S$150 a month. TAN Siew Yoke was sentenced to six months' jail yesterday. (Straits Times 24 May 2001)

  The Government may not release more land for private housing in the new estates if the market softens and shows little interest, said National Development Minister MAH Bow Tan in an interview with Lianhe Zaobao published on 1 May 2001. Mr MAH said the Government would take into account market sentiment when conducting its six-monthly review. Last year, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) offered for sale enough land to build 9,000 homes, but developers only bought land for some 6,300 homes. (Straits Times 2 May 2001)

  A man was jailed on 6 Apr 2001 for seven months after he admitted to harbouring a Chinese illegal immigrant at his Clementi flat in February 2001. CHEW Seng Heng, 36, had agreed to rent a room to HE Yi Min, 32, at S$120 a month. The court heard that HE had shown Chew a photocopy of his work permit. But CHEW did not verify the potential tenant's entry status, nor did he take due care and diligence before allowing HE to stay in his flat. The maximum penalty for harbouring or employing immigration offenders is two years' jail and a S$6,000 fine. (Straits Times 7 Apr 2001)

  A person can be charged in court for harbouring an illegal immigrant even if he is not the tenant, owner or landlord of the shelter he is providing. Chief Justice YONG Pung How made this ruling last month when he dismissed a woman's appeal against her one-year jail term for harbouring three illegal immigrants in a shophouse which did not belong to her. The written judgement in the case was obtained by The Straits Times on 22 Mar 2001. (Straits Times 23 Mar 2001)

  A 70-year-old woman was charged in court on 23 Feb 2001 with harbouring four illegal immigrants from Bangladesh in her District 9 apartment on Cavenagh Road. LEE Hong Tee, a grandmother, rented her flat to them at different times between January and July last year. She is out on bail of S$10,000. (Straits Times 24 Feb 2001)
  A district court on 23 Feb 2001 sentenced PHEH Kim Lan, 60, to six months' jail for harbouring two illegal immigrants from China. Thirteen similar charges against PHEH, a housewife, were taken into consideration during sentencing. (Straits Times 24 Feb 2001)
  590 people were arrested for harbouring illegal immigrants last year, a big jump from the 306 arrested in 1999 and 166 caught in 1998. The number of estate agents arrested increased from three in 1999 to 10 in 2000. There was just one such arrest in 1998. These figures were given in Parliament on 23 Feb 2001 by Associate Professor HO Peng Kee, Minister of State (Law & Home Affairs). Real estate agents are not required to check prospective tenants, which is why so few have been arrested. But the law is being revised to hold them responsible if they play a part in renting out properties to immigration offenders. The number of employers caught for hiring immigration offenders rose to 572 in 2000 from 388 in 1999 and 270 in 1998. (Straits Times 24 Feb 2001)
  Rent Control in Singapore to be abolished on 1 April 2001.
  The Housing Board has relented in dealing with a killer-litter culprit who was barred from living in an HDB flat for five years. Widow WONG Sook Ying, 47, will be allowed to rent a unit on the lowest floor of a block. Her reprieve came after she appealed to the HDB against eviction last year, after she was convicted of the offence of throwing tiles and flower pots from her block in Toa Payoh. Madam WONG was a repeat offender who had another conviction in 1994. (Straits Times 17 Feb 2001)
  A 72-year-old widow was on 29 Jan 2001 sentenced to seven months in jail for harbouring illegal immigrants in a Geylang shophouse. ONG Hock Sung, who was a tenant of the shophouse, had sub-let the place to foreigners at S$150 a month each.  (Straits Times 30 Jan 2001)
  An average of 41 people were arrested each month, between January and March 2000, for harbouring immigration offenders. And from April to December 2000, it went up to 52 a month, said Home Affairs Minister WONG Kan Seng in Parliament on Friday 12 Jan 2001. Last year, about 42% of those arrested were not charged in court. And for those who were charged, more than 80% were convicted. (Straits Times 14 Jan 2001)

     Conman jailed for cheating would-be tenants of deposits

  A man conned three people into giving him a total of S41,600 by pretending he would rent out his flat to them. Zakaria Juki, 39, never intended to rent anyone the flat. It wasn't even his to rent out. The cheat used it to collect rent deposits from would-be tenants. On 2 Jan 2001, he was jailed for two years after he admitted cheating his victims and committing a criminal breach of trust. (Straits Times 3 Jan 2001)

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