Thirty-three families renting state properties in Katong scheduled to move out by the year-end have been given a reprieve, with the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) granting them a six-month lease extension in view of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The households, which were initially asked to move out by December this year, will now have their leases extended to end-June next year to “help them get through this difficult period”, said SLA in a statement yesterday.
Residents, many of whom were initially saddened to learn that they have to move out, have also been asked to indicate if they are interested in returning to these houses after a year-long upgrading is completed.
Said SLA: “Rental applications by the existing tenants will be prioritised and they will be notified to make a direct rental application when the upcoming works are completed.”
So far, 22 of the 33 households have done so.
The Straits Times previously reported that SLA had issued a notice last September to residents to move out so that major restoration and repair works can be carried out for the first time on the state properties built in the 1950s.
The cluster of 42 two-storey terraced houses in Jalan Binjai, Jalan Gajus, Jalan Tembusu and Jalan Beringin are rented out by the Government.
Works, which will now start next July, include roof repairs, plumbing, interiors and possible spatial enhancements, said SLA.
Madam Hasana Ahmad, 85, who has been living in the same unit for 44 years, was overjoyed at the news. She is the longest-staying resident in the estate.
Her grandson Ahmed Iqbal, 24, who was previously living with her, said: “My grandma will always want to come back. But we’ll have to see the rental then. If it’s going to be higher, then I’m not sure.”
Mr Iqbal had recently moved into a nearby unit as SLA granted him a short-term tenancy.
Five of the 37 households which were served notice last year have moved out.
Residents given lease extensions told ST that they are relieved at not having to look for alternative accommodation during this circuit breaker period.
Furniture designer Nathan Yong, 48, who has been living in the estate for six years, said: “Now is definitely the worst time to think about moving. Not only is it expensive, we will also need to travel around to look for places and engage all sorts of services, which is not ideal.”
One of the newer residents, who wanted to be identified only by his first name Francis, said the lease extension gives him breathing space to plan his move towards the beginning of next year and “not stress about it for now”.
Finance and information technology director Hara Mohanty, 47, who has been living in the estate for over 10 years, said the lease extension came at a good time when “things are quite challenging”.
He said: “The thing I’ll miss the most in this estate is birdwatching, which I do every morning when I go on walks.”
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