Moving into a new home is usually an exciting milestone for most of us, but not for netizen, Geraldine Tang. Instead of building a dream home and looking forward to staying at home, she found herself fighting over what seems like a never ending nightmare. In her Facebook account, she recounted her grievances against her new flat.
Her predicament is extremely unfortunate, the structural hiccups are appalling, and it has left homeowners like her in an extremely devastated state. As she puts it simply,
“The car is our second home.”
These are the five issues she faced.
According to the complaint, the floor gets cold and wet whenever her neighbour—situated below their unit—switches on their air-conditioner.
“The floor gets so cold and wet it’s dangerous to step around. One can slip and fall if not careful.
It’s so damp the window gets misty with condensation.”
“During the year-end rainy months, the study room which is next to the bathroom show water appearing at tile joints almost daily.
This is happening still several times a month.”
Her master bedroom and even the bathroom gets free cooling air from her neighbours’ air-conditioner.
“Free cooling! But we hate the chill coming up. How is this possible?”
She now knows when her neighbours are using the toilet for excretion because the pungent odour never fails to permeate into her unit in the most timely fashion.
“Sewage and foul odours invade our bathrooms whenever people just above and below us excrete.”
Besides the stench, this experience is extremely sensory, the fermented debris stains her walls and floor.
“The massive stains on the walls of our flat are evidence of this. The floor is full of microbial debris which makes our feet itch. We have to mop the floor five, six times a day. The pail of water smells like the toilet.”
Honestly, this sounds like an extended camp in the wilderness where my travel buddy and I had to rely on mineral water to clean our faces and brush our teeth because the water source is dangerously unreliable for consumption.
“Lab tests of water samples collected three times in 2015 when there was urine odour identified bacteria found in soil, sewage, dust, spoilt can juice, and on the skin which all should not be in drinking water. […] We caught some of these infections many times.”
Since July 2019, the pipe contamination got so bad that it extended to the kitchen tap. This has narrowed the available time frame for clean source of water and hence, it has limited their daily activities to brunch at 3 pm, dinner near midnight, and using the loo only twice a day.
“We buy 20-30 bottles of water every day for drinking, cooking, and rewashing when sprayed with bacteria during a shower.”
This point is pretty absurd and somewhat bizarre. Whenever their neighbours take a hot shower, their bathroom seems to take another hit.
“When neighbours take hot showers, our bathroom turns into a sauna bath. We can’t get in till they finish. We get a strange “hot toilet bowl” because all the heat rises from there!”
Taichi is a traditional Chinese internal martial arts. However, it is commonly used as a corporate term to describe a diplomatic deflection of responsibility.
Like any rational problem solver, the helpless homeowners have sought help from various sources—ministries, statutory boards, developers—but to no avail.
Based on Miss Tang’s sharing, we summarised the responses from the different stakeholders in the points below.
Developer: insisted that there is nothing wrong
Minister: relegated the matter to the HDB area office
PUB: HDB should act because this is an HDB flat
HDB: they are not experts in the water and sanitary system
She met the Minister again, who then relegated the matter to BCA, PUB, and HDB.
“It’s almost a year and nobody contacted us. If a Minister’s instruction is not heeded, what can we do? Where is the accountability?”
Following the numerous shares, reposts, and social media discussions, PUB and HDB responded to Miss Tang’s claims.
“We have repeatedly explained to Ms Tang that the many rounds of investigations and tests have shown that the water supplied to her is entirely satisfactory and safe for drinking. […] We had advised that she follow up with the developer to rectify any water seepage issue.
[…] Water samples from consumers’ taps are also tested daily.”
“An Indoor Air Quality specialist who had inspected the flat, reported that windows and doors in the flat were constantly closed, resulting in poor ventilation as well as high temperature and humidity within the flat. It was also observed that multiple cleaning chemicals were used to disinfect the floor and wash the walls of the flat. The specialist concluded that the microbial growth within the flat is likely a result of the poor ventilation and excessive washing over time. Ms Tang, however, did not heed the advice of the specialist to ventilate the flat.
Prior to her current flat, Ms Tang had also reported similar issues in two previous flats.”
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