Forced sales are very rare and its usually the last resort by the MCST as this process may be traumatic for all parties and time consuming with a host of potential legal and other complications, but the MCST had run out of options after repeated reminders were ignored by the couple to pay their over due outstanding management fees and sinking fund bills amounting approximately $36,000. Under the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act, the MCST has the power to force the sale of a unit to recover money owed.
Homeowners started selling around $950 psf on average after Arc@Tampines EC achieved its Minimum Occupation (MOP) Status in the year 2020. Arc@Tampines EC was launched in 2012 with overall units selling around $750 psf on average.
The forced sale - a 7th floor three bedroom unit measuring around 1,055 sqft were initially auctioned by Knight Frank months ago but were withdrawn as there were no bids with an opening price of $880,000 ($835 psf). The forced sale condo unit enjoys a premium facing - overlooking beautiful landscaped greenery and swimming pool.
But in the last auction, at a higher opening price of $900,000 - this forced sale unit saw two buyers aggressively bidding for the unit which eventually was sold for $945,000 (around $896 psf) at an auction by Knight Frank. This is estimated to be around $100 psf lower than the current market rate according to current caveated transacted prices.
According to real estate professional Kiwi Lim "MC forced sales are pretty rare and for such forced sale units, the MC does not need to possess the unit and usually there will not be any viewing, especially when the unit is still occupied by the owner or tenant. The new buyer would have to obtain a court order to evict the current occupiers of the unit after the sale is completed. And that could take about three months".
Section 43 of the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act (BMSMA) does not impose a duty upon MCs to lodge with or seek approval from the authority before proceeding to sell a unit for the purpose of recovering outstanding amounts from the property owner.
There are certain legal requirements MCs should fulfil, e.g. registering a charge with the Registrar of Titles, passing a special resolution to sell the unit and placing a notice of the intended sale in one or more approved daily newspapers.
The MC would have to seek mandate at its General Meeting prior to seek the majority owner's approval to proceed further to force sale the unit. Prior to such harsh action, the condo's Managing Agent would have attempted to reach out to the owner and the MC is also likely to have engaged legal advice to pursue recovery by legal means such as lodgement of charges (to secure MCST interest), debtor judgement, writ of summon, writ of seizure etc.
If the MC still does not receive any payment from the property owner after six weeks from the publication of the notice, and there is no legal action pending in court to restrain the sale, the MC can sell the unit.
Essentially, the MCST hopes the owner will make the outstanding payment promptly to avoid such a traumatic experience for all. If any condo owner is experiencing any difficulty with their MCST or sinking fund payments, please communicate with your MCST / MA to work out some payment installment arrangements to avoid such unhappiness.
The main objective of embarking on a forced sale is to compel the property owner to make payment of the outstanding contributions. As long as the owner pays up, the forced sale will be called off.
Condo owners are required to make prompt MCST payments in order to allow the MC and MA to have the necessary funds to upkeep the common property in order to maintain a nice environment for all owners to enjoy.