Condo by-laws: What homeowners need to know

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Thinking of purchasing a condominium? Condos across Singapore vary in their by-laws, and it’s important to check how the condo you’re considering deals with matters such as security, garbage disposal, common areas and more.

Consider this: in a notable incident that happened a few years back, Sharlane Foo, a resident at City Square wasn’t allowed to enter the condo because she had forgotten her access pass. While Sharlane showed the security officer her IC — which contained her City Square residence address — the officer refused to let her through. She requested for a supervisor to step in, but the supervisor who arrived, too, did not allow her in.

Some security guards take their job WAY more seriously than you’d think.

Sharlane had no choice but to repeatedly call her fiance, who was at home. Once he got her texts and missed calls, he rushed downstairs with her access pass. While the couple expected an apology from the guards, they were instead met with “an aggressive posture and swearing”. The incident culminated in the security supervisor becoming violent and hitting Sharlane’s fiance, and it’s clear that this wasn’t the right course of action.

Now, here’s the question: assuming the incident did not involve any violence, would it then be within the condo or guards’ jurisdiction to deny Sharlane entry, or were they in the wrong?

Here’s the answer: it all depends on the condo’s by-laws.

What are condo by-laws?

If you’re not familiar with condo by-laws, these are essentially stipulations that condo residents need to abide by. These are made for the purpose of “controlling and managing the use or enjoyment of common property and the lot” in a condo or development.

How does this work? In Singapore, the management of condominiums are governed under the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act (BMSMA). Under the BMSMA, there are two sets of by-laws: one set that’s outlined in the Second Schedule of the Building Maintenance (Strata Management) Regulations, and another set that can be established by each condo’s management corporation.

Condo by-laws can get surprisingly complex and extensive

Compulsory condo by-laws

The compulsory by-laws set out in the Second Schedule of the Building Maintenance (Strata Management) Regulations primarily deal with:

  • Noise
  • Parking of vehicles
  • Obstruction of common property
  • Damage to lawn, trees, shrubs and other plants
  • Alteration or damage to common property
  • Behaviour of owners and residents
  • Children playing on common property
  • Behaviour of visitors
  • Depositing rubbish and unwanted items on the common property
  • Drying of laundry
  • Cleaning windows
  • Storage of flammable liquids
  • Garbage disposal
  • Keeping of animals
  • Proper maintenance of lot
  • Proper use of lot
  • Change of use of lot
  • Prevention of fire and other hazards
  • Control of use of facilities
  • Provision of amenities and services

These by-laws are fairly straightforward. For instance, the by-law concerning “behaviour of visitors” states that residents should ensure that their visitors do not disturb the peace of the estate.

Should a condo resident breach a by-law, the condo’s MC or other residents may apply to the court for an order to stop said resident from continuing to breach the by-law. In doing this, they may also recover damages (if applicable).

Additional condo by-laws

The BMSMA dictates that a condominium’s MC has the right to make additional by-laws which fall under the following categories:

  • Safety and security measures
  • Details of any common property of which use is restricted
  • The keeping of pets
  • Parking
  • Floor coverings
  • Garbage disposal
  • Behaviour
  • Architectural and landscaping guidelines to be observed by all subsidiary proprietors
  • Such other matters as are appropriate to the type of strata scheme concerned
Not every rule is actually a by-law

That said, these additional by-laws are not allowed to contradict the compulsory by-laws.

In the case where you have a dispute with your condo’s by-laws (let’s call this by-law A, for simplicity), and you find that A contradicts a compulsory by-law of BMSMA, you may move to have A repealed.

When is a condo regulation NOT a by-law?

The vast majority of by-laws require a Special Resolution to be passed. This means: a general meeting has to be held; during this meeting, the condo residents who vote for the resolution have to make up at least 75% of the share value of all the valid votes cast at the meeting.

Bearing this in mind, if your condo tries to impose any rules or regulations that hasn’t been brought up at a general meeting, this does NOT constitute a by-law. Following in the same vein, if your condo tries to impose a rule that was brought up at a general meeting, but failed to obtain majority (<75%) vote, again, this does not count as a by-law.

Note: there are some exceptions to this rule. In the case where the MC wants to grant an owner exclusive use of part of the common property for less than a year, for example, the MC only requires the support of an Ordinary Resolution (>50%) in order to pass the by-law.

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If you found this article helpful, recommends 4 ugliest ‘condo MCST vs resident’ fights in Singapore history and Why it pays to be involved in your condo’s management council.

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About Elizabeth Tan

Elizabeth is a writer, a Harry Potter fanatic, and a Game Of Thrones addict.

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