Written Answer by Ministry of National Development on whether HDB has received increasing numbers of noise related complaints since December 2020 and new measures implemented to provide a more conducive work-from-home environment
Jul 26, 2021
Mr Liang Eng Hwa: To ask the Minister for National Development (a) whether HDB has received increasing numbers of noise related complaints since December 2020; and (b) what are the new measures implemented to provide a more conducive work-from-home environment.
From December 2020 to June 2021, feedback about noise from neighbouring HDB units, excluding renovation noise, remained generally stable at about 1,400 cases per month. During the same period, feedback about renovation noise ranged from 1,200 to 2,300 cases per month, with an increase in May 2021 likely due to the return to default work-from-home arrangements.
Neighbours should respect and be considerate to one another, especially when we spend more time at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic. When a household’s actions affect neighbours, we encourage them to communicate with each other as a first step towards resolving the matter. When HDB receives feedback from residents affected by noise disturbance from neighbours, HDB will convey the feedback to the neighbours and seek their understanding to keep the noise level down. When alerted to such feedback, most neighbours will take measures to minimise the inconvenience to other residents.
Should disputes remain intractable, residents can seek help from community leaders or the Community Mediation Centre for mediation to resolve the issue amicably. As a last resort, they can also file a case at the Community Disputes Resolution Tribunal. MCCY is currently leading an inter-agency review to strengthen the Community Dispute Management Framework, which seeks to promote neighbourliness to minimise disputes, and to encourage the amicable resolution of disputes via mediation.
HDB has also put in place additional measures to address the issue of renovation noise, since more residents are now working or studying from home. For instance, before carrying out renovation works, all contractors listed in HDB’s Directory of Renovation Contractors are currently required to notify the neighbours within a radius of 2-units all around the flat undergoing renovations, three days in advance. HDB is exploring the possibility of extending the advance notice period to give residents more time to make alternative arrangements. In addition, HDB residents are now able to receive and view notices for upcoming flat renovation works at their blocks through the OneService App. The advance notice will allow affected neighbours to make alternative arrangements or to approach the contractors to adjust the renovation schedules. Residents who need further assistance can approach HDB, who will help to facilitate alternatives, including providing information on the available alternative work and study spaces, such as those in community centres and commercial co-working spaces, and working with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to see if the resident can return to the office, subject to safe management measures.
To promote good neighbourliness, HDB actively engages residents through exhibitions, volunteer networks like the Friends of Our Heartlands, and campaigns such as the recent collaboration with the Singapore Kindness Movement. The Municipal Services Office (MSO) also has an ongoing study to better understand noise issues in specific feedback hotspots in HDB estates so that we can develop new strategies to approach this issue. In addition, MSO is working with residents, grassroots organisations and community stakeholders in various Divisions across Singapore through the Love Our ’Hood Initiative to design community solutions to address neighbourly disamenities, with the next location being Pioneer. Ultimately, good communication and neighbourliness amongst residents are key to minimising neighbourhood disamenities.
Given the current COVID-19 situation, we empathise with residents who need to work from home, who could be affected by neighbourly or renovation noise. In Singapore’s high-density living environment, some amount of give-and-take will be necessary. We seek residents’ patience and understanding to exercise mutual understanding and accommodation as we all adapt to new work-life arrangements and tackle the COVID-19 pandemic together.