Written Answer by Ministry of National Development on special covenant 2(1)(a) of the Memorandum of Lease to HDB's lease agreement to prevent smoking near balconies or windows
Nov 3, 2021
Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang: To ask the Minister for National Development (a) whether special covenant 2(1)(a) of the Memorandum of Lease to HDB's lease agreement can be enforced to prevent smoking near balconies or windows; (b) under what circumstances has HDB enforced this covenant; and (c) if HDB has not enforced this, why not.
Smoking in one’s flat may cause nuisance and health concerns to neighbours if cigarette smoke wafts into their homes. While this is covered by the covenant referred to by the Member, enforcing the breach of a covenant under the lease entails compulsory acquisition of the flat. This is a harsh measure that is not undertaken lightly. HDB exercises the right of compulsory acquisition sparingly and often as a last resort. Moreover, should a flat be compulsorily acquired, the flat owners and occupants of the flat, such as their family members, will need to relocate and find a home elsewhere. If the underlying issues are not resolved, the issue will just be brought over to another community.
Hence, the approach to manage disamenities and disputes between neighbours is for neighbours to come together to try to resolve the matter amicably. When residents provide feedback to agencies on second-hand tobacco smoke issues, HDB, together with Town Councils and the National Environment Agency, will first encourage neighbours to speak to each other to try to resolve the matter. Where necessary, a Joint Advisory on Smoking in Homes will be issued to the residential unit reported to be emitting second-hand smoke, encouraging considerate behaviour and emphasising the negative impact that second-hand smoke may have on their neighbours.
If this does not work, the agencies will advise the affected neighbour to seek mediation. In intractable cases, the affected neighbour may file a case with the Community Disputes Resolution Tribunal (CDRT). If the respondent is shown to have caused unreasonable interference to the affected neighbour, then the CDRT may make a range of orders against the respondent, including requiring the respondent to cease or refrain from carrying out certain acts.