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SLA served last warning to three homeowners along Merpati Road to move out

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has legally possessed three freehold terrace houses along Merpati Road on Tuesday (25 Apr), and an enforcement notice was issued, after which they have a 28-day grace period to move out. SLA's deputy chief executive Simon Ong and four other officers visited their homes yesterday to serve the notice.

All the other 12 homeowners of the two-storey houses around the area, located across the street from the upcoming Mattar MRT Station, have moved out before Tuesday. Tuesday is the final deadline given to the residents to vacate their property.

SLA said that the residents of Merpati Road had been given four rounds of extension, spanning 20 months from the original deadline in 2015.

An SLA officer on site said, “The owners were originally given until end August 2015 to hand over the properties. However, to accommodate the owners' requests, SLA had extended the deadline four times by a total of one year and eight months till 25 April 2017”.

"The deadline cannot be extended further as agencies will need to commence road realignment and infrastructure works to prepare the area for development."

One of the remaining residents, Mr George Oh, 60, a retiree who lives at 29 Merpati Road with his two brothers, told reporters that he intends to move out within the next one to two weeks.

SLA officers also said that they have spoken with Mr George Oh. They said Mr Oh ‘understands the significance’ of the move and has promised to move out in a few days.

Mr Oh would not comment on the compensation offered to him, but said it would be hard to get another similar landed property nearby with the sum of the compensation given.

His family had purchased the two-storey 2,000 sq ft in 1974. Mr Oh explained they have resisted moving out as it was a convenient location for his brother, who is a car mechanic, to get to work.

He said, "We expected them to give us another extension today. (But) Since they say they want to redevelop now, we intend to move out as soon as possible."

The notices for the residents at houses number 27 and 33 were delivered into their letterboxes because they did not respond to the officers.

The resident at unit number 27, a 78-year-old retiree who only wanted to be known as Mr Loh, also said he will move when his family manages to get a Housing Board flat.

Speaking in Mandarin, Mr Loh said that his family have no choice and would eventually have to move out if the government wants them to. He noted that the rest of his neighbours have already left.

Mr Loh lives with his daughter, son and a daughter-in-law. He added, "We definitely plan to move since everyone else have done so."

According to Straits Times, it was understood that the three households were offered between $1.7 million to $3.3 million as compensation. The sum was determined by private estimator, based on market value for the acquired land, SLA said.

The compensation also included waivers of various fees and charges such as stamp duty and legal fees.

They were also offered various assistance packages, including priority for Build To Order HDB applications, an advance payment of 40 percent of the compensation, reimbursement of the Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty, concessionary rent back of the acquired properties, and waiver of housing loan restrictions.

Residents were also given the option of renting public housing to reside in as they look for another home, however, the homeowners rejected some of those given measures.

If they fail to move out after this last deadline, legal processes will kick in - SLA will apply for a court order to take over these properties, which could be granted within three to six months.