Singapore – A homeowner took to social media to expound on the difficulties faced in getting the Housing & Development Board (HDB) to address a pipe leakage problem. Members of the public noted that shouldering repair costs was a more feasible option.

On Tuesday (Nov 10) Facebook user Josephine Lam Mingli uploaded her first post at Complaint Singapore‘s page. The complaint consisted of her personal experience in dealing with HDB and the slow response in addressing housing problems.

Ms Mingli went into great detail illustrating her experience which began with a leaking bathroom pipe in their flat located at Punggol Town. As Ms Mingli explained, they have been residents in the area since 2010 and have not stumbled upon issues until last Friday (Nov 6) when she spotted water dripping from the master bedroom bathroom.

“Immediately, I called up my town council to seek for their assistance, but upon my verbal description, the officer has responded that I should report my problem to HDB instead,” said Ms Mingli. She then made a call to HDB and was informed that respective personnel would get back to her.

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“After waiting patiently for almost two hours, nobody has come for help nor contacted me on any follow-up,” said Ms Mingli. “I’m getting more worried as the condition is turning from bad to worst.(sic)” She called HDB once more and sought immediate attention to her problem. A few hours passed and an HDB personnel whom Ms Mingli called “J” responded to her complaint and offered assistance.

However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Ms J was working from home and couldn’t address the issue personally. Instead, she requested for photos and videos of the leak. Ms Mingli received confirmation that HDB was looking into the matter.

“I was so naïve to trust their words and thought help would come soon since I got their acknowledgement,” wrote Ms Mingli. “However, more than 80 hours of waiting has passed, and no calls nor follow-up emails has been received.” According to her post, the leak began running like tap water “and pails of water were collected.”

Ms Mingli called HDB once more on Monday (Nov 9) and was told an officer would get back to her as soon as possible. “I have requested to speak to their property manager or higher level in-charge, but their customer executive has rejected and claims that they can’t do anything.

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After a second opinion from a friend who specializes in maintenance, Ms Mingli highlighted that it was likely a sewage pipe that was leaking. “I was shocked to know and feel sick as the water my family and I have been clearing over the past four days are all waste toilet water.”

Ms Mingli called HDB and informed them she would be coming over but was informed that due to the pandemic, visits without an appointment were prohibited. Furthermore, the staff were unable to set a meeting on behalf of the branch office. After suggesting handling the problem personally, Ms Mingli was told she would be held fully responsible for damages caused by a third-party contractor.

“After hearing that, I almost faint. Where are their standards? Residents like me suffering, and instead of giving me a helping hand, they ask me to take responsibility and using their regulation on me,” said Ms Mingli. After a few more calls to HDB, she was allowed to get the leak fixed by a certified plumber given she would have to shoulder the costs. In her post, Ms Mingli expounded further on her disappointments with the standards and wondered where else she could go to for assistance.

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Members from the online community shared similar experiences and confirmed the problem had to be dealt with personally. “You have to help yourself. Get a sealant and seal off the leakage temporarily,” advised Facebook user Lim Eng Boon.

Meanwhile, Facebook user Ahmad Syah posted a screenshot from the HDB website explaining who was responsible for home maintenance repairs depending on the problem. “You need to maintain the sanitary branch pipes in your flats. The town council is responsible for the maintenance of the main sanitary pipes,” read the HDB advisory on pipes.

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ByHana O