Bid to allow public access to minimart in condo fails

A visitor had to pass by residential blocks and two swimming pools in the common areas of Urban Vista condo to get to the minimart, which was located at the far end from the entrance to the property.PHOTO: STRATA TITLES BOARDS

STB rules that management corporation and residents have right to restrict access to estate

A minimart landlord’s request to let the public patronise its shop in a condominium was turned down by the Strata Titles Boards (STB), which ruled that such access had to be approved by the condo residents and its management corporation (MC).

The STB ruled that the Urban Vista condo was a residential development based on the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s classification, and not a mixed development.

“In a residential development, the management corporation and the residents have the right to restrict the type or class of people entering the residential property,” said the STB in decision grounds last month.

“Hence, the (MC) has the right to restrict members of the public who are neither residents nor guests of residents from entering Urban Vista,” added the tribunal, presided by Mr Alfonso Ang and with members Lawrence Ang and Ashvinkumar Kantilal.

Urban Vista, located near Tanah Merah MRT station, comprises 582 residential units and three commercial units.

The ground-floor units in question are owned by Bayfront Realty, the former owner-developer of the development, and are nestled between residential blocks at the far end from the entrance to the property.

Bayfront had leased two of the three commercial units to a mini-mart operator, whose customers included residents, their guests and members of the public.

A visitor had to pass by residential blocks and two swimming pools in the common areas of the property to get to the commercial units.

Initially, there was no restriction on members of the public visiting the minimart who booked in at the entrance security post, used visitor passes and returned them upon leaving the estate.

But over time, complaints and safety concerns surfaced.

Among other things, unknown persons were said to have used the estate’s facilities and were unable to disclose the unit number of any resident whom they claimed to be visiting when they were approached by security staff.

In March, the MC stopped members of the public from having access to the commercial units. The minimart incurred losses and eventually had to be closed.

Bayfront then applied to the STB for an order to forbid the MC from preventing people from entering the estate to visit the commercial units.

Its lawyers, Mr Toh Kok Seng and Mr Daniel Chan, argued that the MC had no powers to restrict the type or class of persons entering a strata lot and that safety concerns should be addressed by way of proper enforcement, not by restrictions.

The MC’s lawyer, Mr Adam Chong, however, noted it had been resolved at an annual general meeting that the commercial units should serve residents only.

The STB, in dismissing Bayfront’s move, held the MC had the right to restrict the type or class of people entering the property, as it was a residential and not mixed development. The STB found the MC was not unreasonable and urged the parties “to collaborate and find a beneficial arrangement”.

It noted: “Strata developments are premised on a unique concept of community-based property ownership, and it is for the subsidiary proprietors to cooperate to enjoy harmonious living at their residential property.”

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