RENTAL OF RIDOUT ROAD PROPERTIES
Mr Tong also outlined SLA’s policy objectives and process of renting out the black-and-white bungalows, and whether the rentals of 26 and 31 Ridout Road to the two ministers deviated from the usual process.
The bungalows at 26 and 31 Ridout Road, built in the early 1900s, were gazetted as conservation properties in 1992. This status imposes obligations on the property owner, such as respecting the key elements of the properties.
Mr Tong said that a “judicious balance” is necessary between protecting heritage properties and redeveloping them altogether. Some black-and-white bungalows have been repurposed, such as 5 Gallop Road into the Forest Discovery Center at the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ Gallop Extension.
“If the black-and-whites are located amidst or amongst a landed enclave, such as in Ridout Road or perhaps Nassim Road, an area that is zoned for landed properties, removing the black-and-whites or redeveloping them and the land around it would not change the area much,” he said.
“The cleared land can only then be similarly used for low intensity development. It would not be possible to put the site for other uses,” he said, adding that these include commercial and social uses.
Development plans for black-and-white bungalows are therefore driven by master-planning considerations, taking into account each property’s specific circumstances such as heritage value, location and possible uses, and being sensitive to the surrounding area, he said.
Turning to the rental process for 26 and 31 Ridout Road, Mr Tong reiterated the findings of the CPIB investigation and Mr Teo’s review.
“There was every reasonable, commercial basis for SLA to have entered into those transactions. The terms of both leases were standard and did not contain any unusual clauses. They were entirely at arms-length, and did not deviate from usual processes,” he said said.
Both properties were managed by the same managing agent – DTZ Facilities & Engineering up to Mar 31, 2018, and Colliers International Consultancy & Valuation from Apr 1, 2018.
SLA and the managing agents had the discretion to decide how to market the properties, and listed only 31 Ridout Road on the State Property Information Online (SPIO) portal.
As the market revived, the SLA in August 2022 required all residential state properties available for rent to be listed on SPIO.
The lease for 26 Ridout Road was signed by Mr Shanmugam’s wife in June 2018, after the property had been vacant for more than four years. The monthly rent was S$26,500 (US$19,590) with a tenancy of 3+3+3 years.
The lease for 31 Ridout Road was signed by Dr Balakrishnan’s wife in October 2019, after having been vacant for more than six years. The monthly rent was S$19,000 with a tenancy of 3+2+2 years.