Singapore Small Claim Court increased to $20,000 and up to $30,000

From 1st of November 2019, Singapore Small Claim Tribunal has increased its limit with the following.

Increased Claim Limit

The previous limit has been increased from $10,000 to $20,000. Should both parties consent, they can go up to $30,000.

Increased Limitation Period

Claims can now be filed within 2 years after date of cause of action accrued (on or after 1st November 2018). It was 1 year before this change is effected.

Powers to Direct Parties to Attend Mediation

The Registrar of SCT may direct parties to attend a mandatory mediation.

Additional Reliefs

SCT may order a tenant who has not paid rent to vacate the property. It is also empowered to order a party to pay other party’s costs of proceedings, including in a situation of an abuse of process.

What it means for real estate?

There will be more cases of disputes claims in SCT as the increase in monetary and time limits will enable more hearings. This is good news as it protects more consumers with its limit increased.

You can read more about Landlord Tenant rights here.

How do I file Small Claims?

All claims are electronically filed since July 2017. You can refer to Small Claims Tribunal site here with its guide.

Additional Buyer Stamp (ABSD) & Seller Stamp Duty (SSD) Explained

Since the introduction of Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD) on 22 February 2010 and Additional Buyer Stamp Duty (ABSD) on 7 December 2011, there have been a number of revisions in the rates as the cooling measures intensify throughout the years.

This is the latest rate. (you can find out about the latest ABSD and LTV adjustment here since 5th July 2018)

Seller’s Stamp Duty
• Holding period of 1 year : 16% of price or market value, whichever is higher
• Holding period of 2 years : 12% of price or market value, whichever is higher
• Holding period of 3 years : 8% of price or market value, whichever is higher
• Holding period of 4 years : 4% of price or market value, whichever is higher

Properties acquired before 20 Feb 2010 will not be subject to SSD.

Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty

a) FR and *entities- 15% on the purchase or acquisition of any residential property.

b) SPR – 5% on the purchase or acquisition of their first residential property

SPR who already own# 1 or more residential properties 10% on the purchase or acquisition of another residential property.

c) SC – who already own# one residential property 7% on the purchase or acquisition of the second residential property.

– SC who already own# 2 or more residential properties 10% on the purchase or acquisition of another residential property.

# Whether owned wholly, partially or jointly with others.
* Entity means a person who is not an individual, and includes an unincorporated association, a trustee for a collective investment scheme when acting in that capacity, a trustee-manager for a business trust when acting in that capacity and, in a case where the property conveyed, transferred or assigned is to be held as partnership property, the partners of the partnership whether or not any of them is an individual.

I have invited Ms. Dorothy Tay of LegalWorks Law Corporation to answer some of my questions to clear up some confusing facts of how both of it works. Legalworks is a boutique law firm that specializes solely in conveyancing and has lawyers of more than 20 years experience in the field. Ms. Dorothy Tay is the principle solicitor behind Legal Works.

LegalWorks Law Corp

Additional Buyer Stamp Duty (ABSD)

Q: Many people are very confused for a fact for this mix of spouse. When you have a Singapore Citizen (SC) and a Foreign (FR) Spouse. How much Additional Buyer Stamp Duty you are supposed to pay for your first matrimonial house? Continue reading “Additional Buyer Stamp (ABSD) & Seller Stamp Duty (SSD) Explained”

New Seller’s Stamp Duty & Lower Housing Loan Limit

With immediate effect, the Government has introduced two new measures to cool down the property market.

Introducing Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD) for Properties Sold Within a Year

Properties that were bought before 20th February 2010 will not be subjected to the SSD. The SSD will be levied on sellers of residential properties and lands bought on or after today.

HDB flats are exclused from the SSD as they do already have a minimum occupancy period of at least one year.

The objective is to discourage possible speculation in the market and is not meant for purchase of properties for owner-occupation or longer term investment. Continue reading “New Seller’s Stamp Duty & Lower Housing Loan Limit”

Do Not Cut Trees Without Permission in Singapore

Never cut down trees without permission, especially when you’re in areas you are not familiar with that might be protected by the law.

When Mr Foo Suan Pin got a contractor to chop down three fruit trees in his garden in the Holland Road area in September 2007, it did not occur to him that he was committing a crime.

But in February this year, he was slapped with a $6,000 fine after he submitted a plan to the authorities for approval of construction works to his house.
The reason? He had removed trees in a tree conservation area… Sunday Times

Here’s a guideline from Sunday Times as well when it comes to chopping down trees in areas you’re unfamiliar with

1 Do I need to seek NParks’ approval if I want to remove a tree in my garden?

Approval from the National Parks Board (NParks) is needed only if the tree is within one of the two tree conservation areas, or has been deemed a heritage tree. You can call NParks’ helpline on 1800-4717300. If necessary, officers will pay you a visit to inspect the trees.

2 Do private developers need to seek NParks’ approval to remove trees if they wish to develop a plot of land?

Only if the land is within a tree conservation area or has heritage trees.

Private developers must engage a registered architect or professional engineer to submit their proposed layout plans to NParks. These would include the number of trees, tree species, girth and height. The trees to be removed are required to be marked on the plans for NParks’ approval.

3 Does NParks conduct tree pruning or tree removal services for private homes?

No. Residents can get an arborist to do this. A list of aborists certified by the International Society of Arboriculture can be found at

The two conservation tree areas in Singapore are the Tanglin-Bukit Timah-Pasir Panjang area and the other is in Changi. They were chosen because of the large number of clusters of mature trees and wooded areas there.

To prevent such things from happening in the future if you are a Landed apartment owner, do make sure your architect firm is well aware of the conservation acts which might have future implication with the law.

Legal Property Advice – Chances of Getting a Share of Property Proceeds after Divorce

Sunday Times is a weekly must read for me, especially with the columns that touches mostly on legal issues on real estate.

This week they’re covering issues with regards to divorce and how the judgement would be like when it comes to handling a property’s proceedings.

I am married, without any kids. My husband and I live in a condominium. His mother is a joint owner. He is paying for the home solely by himself, including the monthly housing loan and all other bills, while I am paying the monthly maintenance and conservancy fee of $300.

In the event of a divorce, do I have a chance of fighting for an equal share from the proceeds of the condominium?
A Normally a legal owner would have beneficial interest in the property. The beneficial interest acquired by the mother will be in proportion to her financial contribution. However, if the property was bought without any financial contribution from her, then it is arguable that she has no beneficial interest in the property.

An answer from Lie Chin Chin, Managing Director of Characterist LLC.

Upon a divorce, the court can order the division of the sale proceeds attributed to the share in the condominium that is the matrimonial asset.

For example, if the mother has a 30 per cent share, then only 70 per cent share in the condominium can be available for division between you and your husband.

The division will be in such proportions as the court thinks just and equitable, considering several factors such as length of marriage, and the parties’ direct and indirect financial contribution towards acquisition of the matrimonial property.

Indirect contributions could include efforts to enhance the welfare of the family, looking after the home or caring for the family or any aged or dependant of either party. The facts that you have no children and that your husband’s financial contribution is significantly more than yours are not factors in your favour.

Your contribution to the maintenance of the condominium is a factor in your favour. However, to have a higher chance of getting 50per cent of the matrimonial asset, you need to show there were extensive indirect contributions on your part.

Singapore Estate Law – Can You Will Your HDB to Siblings?

Here’s another interesting snippet from Sunday Times. Agent friends should flip up Sunday Times and look out for the Invest Section – Your Personal Adviser: Finance



I would like to know if I can make a will and name my siblings as beneficiaries so they can inherit my HDB flat when I die. I am single and registered as the sole owner of the flat. Two of my siblings already have their own HDB flats, while another has a private property.

If it is not possible to will the flat to them, what will happen to the property after my death? Would HDB buy back the flat and then distribute the funds to my estate, and would it pay the original price or the market rate?

Continue reading “Singapore Estate Law – Can You Will Your HDB to Siblings?”

Singapore Estate Law – Can Foreigners Inherit Landed Property?

Sunday Times is always the best source for uncommon Singapore Real Estate laws. Here’s the snippet and answer:-

My boss is a Singaporean but she lives in Malaysia as she’s married to a Malaysian. She has a few landed properties in Singapore. In the event of her death, can her children and/or husband legally own the properties if willed, as they are not Singapore citizens or permanent residents (PRs)?

Professional answer coming from KhattarWong Partners, Lim Choi Ming,

In general, only Singaporeans are allowed to own land and landed properties in Singapore.

The following descriptions of land/landed property in Singapore are classified as restricted residential property:

  1. Vacant residential land;
  2. Landed property (that is, detached house, semi-detached house, terrace house including linked house or townhouse); and
  3. Landed property in strata developments which are not approved condominium developments under the Planning Act.

Foreigners and PRs are allowed to own restricted residential properties only if they have obtained the prior approval of the Land Dealings Approval Unit (LDAU).

Your boss may will her landed property to her husband and/or children even if they are not PRs or Singaporeans. However, upon her death, a foreign beneficiary will have to obtain LDAU approval before he is eligible to legally own such landed property.

If the foreign beneficiary is not granted approval to acquire the landed property, the trustee of the estate of the deceased person will have to sell the foreign beneficiary’s share in the landed property within 10 years of the date of death of the deceased person.

If, for some reason, the trustee is unable to sell the property within the 10-year time limit, he will have to apply to LDAU for a time extension.

So if you have a landed property being passed down to you if you are a foreigner, you would have to dispose it should you decide not to reside in Singapore unless you have very special reasons that you could write to LDAU to allow you to own the house and at the same time reside in your home country.

At the very least, you could still wait and dispose your property at the right time since there’s no restriction on when you have to dispose the landed property within the 10 years timeframe.

Property Legal Woes – Financial Risk of Singaporean Divorcing Foreign Spouse

Found this article online and I think this is something that we should archive and share, maybe we should get a legal panel for advice as well on properties when it comes to relationship encumbrance.


I AM MARRIED to a foreigner and we have a two-year-old child. After living abroad, I am now back in Singapore because our marriage is on the rocks.
My husband has a girlfriend and intends to file for divorce.

I have not been working since I married and moved overseas.

We own a property in Singapore which was bought solely under my name with my husband as the guarantor. Does that mean the house cannot be sold without my consent and that my husband, as the guarantor, has no alternative but to continue to service the loan?

Does he have the right to call for a sale of the house once he files for divorce?

Does he have the right to ask for a share of the sales proceeds since he has been the one servicing the loan from the start?

In addition, he bought shares and bonds under my name. Can I assume there is no dispute on the ownership?

As for child custody, how should I fight for it?

Answer from Justin Wee, a Solicitor from Loke & Seah Advocates & Solicitors

ASSUMING that the loan is secured on a mortgage of the property, there will be obligations on both your husband who is the guarantor and yourself as mortgagor to service the loan.

If your husband ceases repayment of the loan, the lender may look to you for repayment even though your husband has been servicing the loan since day one.
As your husband is not a registered proprietor of the property, he cannot unilaterally sell or otherwise dispose of the property without your consent.
Depending on the circumstances, if the property is considered a gift from your husband to you, he may not be able to ask for a monetary share when the property is sold.

In this regard, the law presumes there is a gift from the husband to the wife but this presumption may be rebutted by contrary evidence.

The same rebuttable presumption applies to assets like shares and bonds that are purchased in your name.

On the question of the custody of your child, the fact that you are not working does not mean that custody of the child will be given to your spouse as the court’s paramount consideration is the welfare of the child.

Moreover, there are provisions entitling you to obtain maintenance for yourself and your child.

As for fighting for custody of the child, it is best that you provide the full facts of your case to a lawyer as there needs to be a strategy put in place.

Depending on the circumstances, it can be a complex issue which cannot be fully dealt with in this space.