HDB sees more reports on social disamenities during circuit breaker

Social disamenities relating to noises, cigarette smoke and foul smells increased from 600 cases per month between January to March, to 2,100 cases per month from April to July.

With more people working and studying from home due to the circuit breaker measures, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) also registered more reports on “social disamenities”, reported Channel News Asia (CNA).

Senior Minister of State for National Development Sim Ann on Wednesday (4 November) revealed in Parliament that HDB received 2,100 cases of feedback on social disamenities per month from April to July, up from around 600 cases per month between January and March.

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The number of feedback per month fell to around 1,500 from August onwards, “likely due to the return of children to school and more employees to workplaces,” she said in response to People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament (MP) Melvin Yong’s question on the number of neighbourly dispute cases received by HDB over the past five years, and whether there has been a hike in such cases amid the telecommuting arrangements.

The minister shared that the authorities do not track the number of neighbour dispute cases within HDB estates.

Sim noted that the figures on social disamenities are the government’s “closest proxy” to the number of neighbourly disputes.

From 2015 to 2019, the government received around 3,400 reports on social disamenities each year.

In responding to MP Pritam Singh’s query on what constitutes a social disamenity, Sim explained that it includes issues relating to noises, cigarette smoke and foul smells.

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“The reason why they are a bit different than neighbourly disputes is because sometimes complaints are raised, but the complainant may not be able to identify which unit originated these issues and therefore, it wouldn’t quite be a case where we can identify specific neighbours and it may not then be a neighbour dispute case per se,” she said as quoted by CNA. 

With this, Sim revealed plans to track neighbour disputes more closely as the government “do recognise that we now have developed an ecology of different methods in which to promote harmonious living and to also strengthen our community norms”.

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