SINGAPORE: A koi fish tank installed on the outside steps of a Tampines flat will have to be removed as it is considered an unauthorised fixture built on common property, the Housing Development Board (HDB) said on Tuesday (Apr 9).
The owner had made an appeal after HDB ordered the tank, which is outside of a ground floor flat at Block 415 Tampines Street 41, to be taken down.
The area is considered common property, HDB told CNA in response to queries, adding that it is an offence under the Town Council’s by-laws to have unauthorised fixtures on common property.
"HDB had considered the appeal made by the flat owner very carefully, and decided that it cannot be retained," it said in its response.
"The stairway area outside the unit is common property. The flat owner himself has acknowledged that this is so.
"Any fixed installations by flat owners have to be confined within the premises of their unit, and not placed on common property."
HDB also said it has informed Tampines Town Council and the flat owner of its decision and sought understanding for the removal of the tank.
The tank was installed a few years ago by the resident of the flat, who was not aware that he needed a permit at the time. It was only in August last year that he requested for one from the town council.
The resident had installed glass panels encasing the space on the steps leading to the entrance of the flat, converting it into an aquarium for about a dozen pet fish. The flat is accessed via the adjacent unit, which the resident also owns.
In January, Tampines Town Council said it was facilitating an appeal made by the resident after HDB ordered the tank to be removed, citing safety issues.
There are risks of injury or fatality that could happen from the steps having been "fundamentally altered", HDB said.
It added that the glass panels could "shatter on impact … and unsupervised children may climb and fall into the tank through the open top", and that there were electrical sockets and cables exposed to the weather elements.
Although HDB gives town councils the flexibility to manage common spaces, it is guided by the principle that safety must not be compromised.
"Hence, town councils would generally allow residents to place small or movable items, such as shoe racks and potted plants along the common corridor, so long as they do not post any safety concerns," HDB said in their previous statement.
In an interview with CNA last August, Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC Baey Yam Keng said there were no complaints regarding the tank. He also noted that while it was obviously against the by-laws, the authorities should be open-minded to look at things on a "case-by-case basis where it warrants".
He also urged residents to consult with authorities first before going ahead with any modification to their homes.