When you buy a new property that's still under construction or yet to be developed, you won't be able to move in until the developer receives the Temporary Occupation Permit, more commonly known as TOP, or Certificate of Statutory Completion, otherwise known as CSC.
Basically, once the permits are issued by the Building Construction Authority (BCA), it means that the project has been inspected to be safe to live.
In this article, you'll learn the differences between both, and what they mean to you as a property owner.
What's the difference between TOP and CSC?
The TOP allows people to move into a development before the remaining amenities are completed. For instance, the living space of a condominium might be complete, but more work still needs to be done on facilities like the swimming pool and the playground.
Simply put, it means that you can collect your keys and move in or rent your unit out without having to wait for the project to be fully completed, which usually takes a few more years.
On the other hand, the CSC certifies that every aspect of the development has been completed. It takes a longer time to obtain the CSC, due to several key requirements that the developer needs to meet. While the TOP also requires developers to meet certain criteria, these are largely confined to living spaces.
While the CSC is compulsory for residency in a completed building, the TOP is optional.
Amenities like playgrounds may still be undergoing construction when a TOP is issued
A developer can apply for a TOP when the development has been completed, and is in the process of obtaining a CSC.
Note that there are differences not just between the TOP and CSC, but also with the Legal Completion Date.
Allows homeowners to live in a residential development despite certain amenities still incomplete
TOPs are optional
Allows a development to be legally occupied when granted
A TOP can be applied for when the developer is in the process of obtaining a CSC
A CSC has to be eventually acquired
This is the date that the development obtains the Certificate of Statutory Completion
What's the benefit of a TOP project?
Obviously, the main benefit of buying a TOP project is that you're buying a property that is already ready to move in, instead of waiting for a newly-launched project to finish completion.
Not only that, since the project is already completed (or close to completion), you'll also get a good sense of what the unit will look like, unlike newly-launched projects where you have to rely on a floor plan. You can also rent your property out immediately.
Also, unlike buying a resale property, TOP properties are new. Meaning you don't have to worry about wear and tear. Since it's considered a new property, you'll also be covered from any damaged items during the defects liability period.
However, keep in mind that you'll need to pay the full condo price when buying a TOP property, which unlike a newly-launched property that hasn't received its TOP, there is no Progressive Payment Scheme.
How long does it take for an HDB or condo to obtain a TOP?
For a normal TOP, the waiting time can be up to 4 weeks upon application. If you’re curious about how the process works, this is how it goes. (But bear with us!)
The process begins with the Qualified Persons (QP) submitting a request for a site inspection to BCA. BCA will then propose an inspection date to the QP within 2 working days, who then has to confirm the date a week before the actual inspection.
If the QP fails to notify the BCA, the request lapses, and the QP has to submit another request for a site inspection. Welcome to the world of property development!
So all in all, it can take up to 4 weeks before a TOP is awarded.
For ‘Express TOPs’, the entire process can be shortened down to just 1 working day. ‘Express TOPs’ go through the same process as typical TOP applications. However, the Commissioner of Building Control will need compliance certificates from key technical departments.
So.. is there anything I can or need to do close to the TOP date?
You won’t have to do anything. In fact, there isn’t anything you can do to speed up the application of the TOP.
What you can do is to plan ahead for the move into your new home! This is the best time for you to shop for any necessities you may have overlooked, such as toiletries and cutlery.
Since we’re on the topic of TOPs, let’s guide you along with your next milestone - the collection of keys to your new home.
What do I need to bring for my key collection?
Compared to HDB owners, condo owners have it easier, and won’t have to bring as many documents. But this might well be a minor inconvenience given all the generous grants HDB buyers get to receive!
For new HDB owners
Here’s what you’ll need to bring for the key collection appointment for your new HDB flat.
Take extra care not to forget any documents you’ll need for this big day. Confirm, then double-confirm!
For identity verification purposes
Certificate of fire insurance
HDB requires all homeowners to own a fire insurance policy from HDB’s appointed insurer.
FWD Singapore is currently HDB’s appointed insurer, and you can visit their website to purchase the fire insurance policy.
You’ll need to bring this if you’re buying a flat under the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme, and have applied for the Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG).
Singpass (either your mobile phone or token device)
Your SingPass will be used to authorise the transaction.
Do ensure that you’ve set up your 2-Factor Authentication (2FA) before the key collection.
Remember not to do this at the last minute as it can take up to 10 days to set up.
Power of Attorney
This needs to be provided if you're unable to attend the appointment personally.
If you’ll be overseas, the attorney representing you must bring 1 certified true copy by the solicitors and 2 photocopies.
Completed GIRO forms
If you’re paying by monthly installments or fully by cash
For new condo owners
If you’ve bought a new condo, all you need to bring is your IC for the key collection.
You can also authorise someone else to collect the keys on your behalf.
Note that the authorised person will have to bring the original copy of the Letter of Authorisation, and his/her IC during the key collection.
The TOP’s in place, and I’ve gotten my keys. What’s next?
The next thing you’ll want to do is to check for any defects in your new home, whether it’s a HDB flat or a condo.
Your HDB flat or condo will be covered under a 1-year warranty period known as the Defects Liability Period (DLP), starting from the time you collect your keys.
You can begin by checking for visible defects, such as uneven floor tiles, rusty hinges, or windows that don’t close properly.
Major defects shouldn’t be too tough to spot, and you’ll probably notice them as you go about your daily routines at home. Just remember that it’s best to report them early.
One thing that you might want to do before doing your defects inspection is to set up your utilities. This will allow you to conduct a more thorough check, such as testing for faulty wiring.
You’ll probably want running water available too in case you want to wash your hands or do a little cleaning up.
But what if you’ve found some defects that you’d like rectified?
For new HDB owners
If you’ve found any defects in your HDB flat, you can fill up the Rectification Request form you received during your key collection and submit it online, or approach your Building Service Centre.
It’s advisable to do this within 7 days of receiving your keys, or before you start renovating your flat. Once you’ve reported the defects, the project contractor will rectify them within 14 days.
Note that if you find any defects during or after the renovation, you’ll have to rectify them at your own cost.
For new condo owners
The rectification request process is a little different for condos.
You’ll need to give written notice to the developer to notify them of the defects within the 1-year DLP period.
The developer will then carry out the rectification work within 1 month from receiving your notice.
Here’s a quick recap of the TOP, to wrap things up!
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We hope this article has helped you understand TOPs better. All the best for your home-ownership journey!
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