Mandarin Gardens second en bloc sale attempt fails without 80% agreement from owners

Mandarin Gardens has failed in its attempt to sell en bloc, which if successful would have been the largest en bloc sale in Singapore to date. The asking price for the leasehold condominium in Singlap was at a record high of S$2.927 billion.

The leasehold condo with 1,017 units had raised its asking price from S$2.479 billion in November last year to S$2.788 billion when owners discovered that the land had been undervalued. The asking price was later raised again to S$2.927 million in hopes of encouraging more owners to agree to the sale.

The collective sales agreement expired on 24 March (Sunday) and without the required 80% agreement of owners, the land couldn’t be put up for sale. The property’s collective sale committee chairman Mr Vincent Teo told Straits Times that they managed to acquire 68% agreement.

However, according to the official handout at the condominium, the percentage of unit owners who voted for the en bloc stands at only 64.46%.

Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss, who is a member of the management council of Mandarin Gardens, wrote on her Facebook page that the actual level of consent as per the lawyers’ official notice dated 23 March 2019 stood at 64.46% in the final tally, not 68% as claimed by Mr Teo.

She wrote, “However, the CSC Chairman’s Final Message on 24 March 2019 (the day of its expiry) cited the figure 68.34% – a figure which includes partially signed units. Legally, only fully signed units are counted in when computing the percentage required by law. Partially signed units have no legal relevance.”

The “true and legally relevant figure” is actually lower than the one claimed by Mr Teo.

An en bloc sale of Mandarin Gardens was first attempted back in 2008. The original attempt was aborted following the global financial crises at the time. A decade later in 2018, unit owners decided to revive their bid for a collective sale.

In January 2018, the owners passed a resolution to form a collective sale committee and begin the process. This second attempt also revived discussions on pros and cons of en bloc sales and whether en bloc regulations should be amended.

Founder of Archurban Arcitects Planners Mr Tan Cheng Siong made clear last year (February 2018) that he is vehemently opposed to en bloc sales. He described the “profit-driven solution” as unsustainable.

He also pointed out that the Land Titles (Strata) Act needs to be addressed. He said the provisions in the Act “encouraged people to uproot from where they live” and have a “let’s get rich by destruction” mentality which add no value to the community.

The 81-year old veteran architect described how he discovered that Urban Redevelopment Authority required unanimous agreement on a “voluntary conservation” project he was working on at Pearl Bank in 2015. They were attempting to give the building a new lease on life but were unable to get all subsidiary proprietors to agree to the proposal.

He said, “So you need 100 per cent consent to protect a building, but 80 per cent to strike it off the surface of the earth.”

Mr Tan added that if this drive for en bloc sales is left unaddressed, Singapore will eventually reach a point where homes just become value to be realised or reaped very quickly.

“This mentality and sentiment is not healthy for our younger generation,” he added.

With regards to Mandarin Gardens, collective sale committee chairman Mr Teo told Straits Times that they might initiate another attempt should the market sentiments permit. He said they wouldn’t have to wait for the 2 year lapse period of 50% of owners by share value sign a requisition for a general meeting to form a new collective sale committee.

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