Tuesday, January 13, 2009

HDB Headache

When someone died, it is always a sad thing. It's even sadder when there are assets involved. Wolves come out all over the place for a share of the deceased assets.

That's what happening to a friend of mine now. I'm not a lawyer or anything, so maybe someone who has went through this or someone with some legal knowledge can help me out here. Here's the situation:

When his grandfather died, the HDB flat the grandfather owned was spilt between his children. One of my friend's uncle holds 50% of the house, while the rest is between the remaining uncles and aunties. The uncle who hold 50% of the house went overseas and the house various bills is paid by one of the other uncles. As it was a new house, the family cannot sell it immediately and has to wait a couple of years before they can put it on the resale market.

Under Singapore law, there's nothing unusual so far.

Then comes the problem! When the time came to sell the house, the uncle who owned 50% of the house refused to sell. In fact, he refused to even come back to Singapore to settle the matter with his siblings. The idea seems to be that as he holds 50% of the house; no one can sell the house without his signature as he never signed a Power of Attorney. Yet at the same time, the other uncles need to continue to maintain the house and pay the bills as they also has a share of the house. If there are any unpaid bills, the Singapore government isn't going to chase him all the way overseas right? They will chase his siblings who are still in Singapore. As long as he refuse to sell, he will own the house without paying a cent for the flat's upkeep.

Now my friend's uncles and aunties in Singapore are struck in a no-win position. They have to continue to pay the bills to a house which they do not live in and which will never be sold. If they do not, they will be breaking the law. But if they do, they will continue to be taken advantage off.

Anyone out there has any idea what can be done by the family now to sell the house? Or at least not to pay the bills to a house they do not owned? If you do, please leave a comment.

8 comments:

Green Earthling said...

Just a thought - why don't they rent out a room or two, to offset utilities and conservancy charges? An interim measure while they sort out the legal stuff.

Zen said...

Agree with what Green Earthling said. Obviously the cheapo uncle wants to keep the house as a financial asset but dun wan to pay upkeep for it. Since he is not around, why not make the asset work for you?

Ghost said...

Can't rent out without his signature on a Power of Attorney. It's his house after all. He also will not want need to come back to Singapore as he know if he did, he will need to answer to his siblings. And I may be wong on this, but as it is his house wouldn't he take the rent of the house?

Green Earthling said...

No need for his signature as there are no formal applications involved for the subletting of rooms (not the whole unit).

Personal opinion: it's technically not his house. The rest of the siblings added together do own the other 50%. Surely they can stake a claim to that one room that they rent out? If they prefer to play safe, check with a lawyer. (But if they are willing to fork out legal fees, I guess iron everything out at the lawyer's and sell off the house once and for all...)

http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10206p.nsf/WPDis/Subletting%20Your%20Flat%20/%20RoomPolicies%20-%20Subletting%20of%20Rooms?OpenDocument&SubMenu=Policies

Ghost said...

According to my friend, there's no one living in the house at the moment. So if they want to rent out, it will has to be the whole house and not just a room. And that can't do that without the uncle's consent.

The Hermit said...

1) Calculate the portion of bills that had been paid on behalf of the uncle. Anything from 6 years to now is ok.

2) Send him a bill demanding for immediate payment.

3) He can ignore it.

4) If less than $10k, accumulate the sum till $10k. Once the bill crosses $10k, get a lawyer to start bankruptcy proceeding against the uncle.

5) The uncle can ignore this at his own perils.

6) Once the court passes its decision, your lawyer should be able to advise you on how to enforce the judgment and seize assets.

7) If the HDB is the only asset he had left in Singapore. Problem solved.

Yeah, I know it is kinda cruel. But that is one of the way I deal with non-negotiable assholes.

Ghost said...

I think if the uncle will not sell, then he need to buy the other 50% (which I doubt he will do) or go to court. I see no other way also

The Hermit said...

Good luck.