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HDB Ceiling Leaks and Water Seepage in Singapore: Who’s Responsible? (2023)

PropertyGuru Editorial Team
HDB Ceiling Leaks and Water Seepage in Singapore: Who’s Responsible? (2023)
Back in early 2021, there was a spike in water seepage and leakage complaints from HDB flat owners during the wet season. According to MP for Tampines GRC Baey Yam Keng, he had received 20 to 30 more complaints, which he claimed is “a lot more” than previous wet seasons. MPs in other areas have also reported more complaints related to ceiling leaks and external wall seepage.
In 2023, HDB ceiling leaks and water seepage incidents are nothing new. If you’re experiencing this at home, or wonder what you can do if it happens to you, read on to find out.

Why Do HDB Ceiling Leaks and Water Seepage Occur?

Ceiling leaks occur when water from the above unit leaks through the concrete slab. The main cause of ceiling leaks is the wear and tear of the waterproofing material and the screed (a type of finishing layer applied on internal floors) in the floor slab.
Generally, ceiling leaks happen more frequently in older HDB flats, especially those that are over 20 years old. It also happens predominantly in toilets and bathrooms since these areas are often exposed to moisture.
If your property is located on the highest floor and you’re experiencing ceiling leaks, this is likely because of the wear and tear of the roofing material on top of the HDB flat.
Meanwhile, water seepage is when water flows from one place to another via cracks on the wall or a porous material, and usually occurs after heavy rainfall. It can also occur if there’s a pipe leak, or if the pipe is defective. Apart from that, it may also happen due to renovations. For example, if the plumbing works were not done correctly or if the plumbing materials used were not of good quality.

So What Can I Do and Who’s Responsible for the Repair Costs?

If your HDB flat is still under the Defect Liability Period, then you don’t have to worry because HDB will cover the cost of repairing ceiling leaks and water seepage. In fact, HDB provides extended warranties for ceiling leaks and water seepage and will cover you for three years and five years respectively.
However, if your HDB flat is no longer under ‘warranty’, you may lodge a complaint to your town council if you discover water leaks through the rooftop or walls. Your town council is responsible for the general upkeep of common properties in the area, which include the roof and walls in an HDB block. When lodging a complaint, be sure to also include a photo and/or video evidence as proof.
If the cause of the water leaks is determined to be through cavities such as window frames and old air-conditioning panels, then it falls under the responsibility of the flat owner. In other words, you would need to hire a contractor and repair the damage on your own.
On the other hand, if there’s a ceiling leak between the upper and lower floor units, both owners would be responsible for the repairs; this is according to the Home Care Guide on HDB’s site.
The upper floor and lower floor owners would need to amicably agree to resolve the issue by hiring a contractor to carry out an inspection, and split the cost. It is vital that you inform your neighbour upstairs if you encounter early signs of water leaks so that they can be resolved quickly and before the situation escalates. Nevertheless, you should still inform your town council and/or HDB beforehand as they may help to assist in the investigation.
Need to engage a contractor? Here are three contractors listed on the HDB website. You can contact them Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm on working days.
EC Builders Pte. Ltd
Mr Kevin Zuo (9126 8198 / kevinzuo@ecbuilders.sg)
North and West Region of Singapore
Jacob General Contractors Pte. Ltd.
Mr James Tan (9027 7206 / jacobgen-hdb@outlook.com)
East Region of Singapore
Success Forever Construction & Maintenance Pte. Ltd.
Mr Jack Oei (9236 8822 / 6752 2212 / enquiry@successforever.com.sg)
Central and South Region of Singapore
Note that both the upper and lower floor residents will only split the cost of repairs if the cause is determined to be wear and tear. If the leak is caused by the renovations done by the upper-floor resident, then the upper-floor resident would be liable for the costs.
In some cases, HDB may offer assistance and co-share 50% of the repair costs via the Goodwill Repair Assistance (GRA) scheme. The remaining 50% will be shared between the upper and lower floor owners.
If the owners agree to take up the GRA, HDB will carry out an inspection and determine the source of the leak. If it’s under the scope of the GRA, HDB will arrange for a contractor to carry out the repairs.
However, note that the scheme only covers the cost of repairing the floor slabs, and does not cover damages done to personal fixtures and fittings such as lighting, cabinets, showers screens, etc. Such claims would need to be sorted out between the flat owners.

What If My Neighbour Doesn’t Allow the Inspection or Pay for the Damages?

Of course, it’s not always when you get cooperative neighbours; in some situations, your neighbour may think that it isn’t his/her concern or wouldn’t want to share the cost of repairing. After all, they would also need to deal with the stress and inconvenience, including coordinating with all parties.
In fact, according to former National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan, 30% or 2,800 ceiling leak cases in 2014 took more than three months to resolve because of uncooperative neighbours.
If this happens to you, you may approach your Grassroot leaders for help. Failing that, you can take legal action against your neighbour.

HDB Has Also Introduced New Repair Technologies

HDB has been exploring two alternative repair technologies to fast-track ceiling leak repairs: a nanotechnology waterproofing system and overlaying waterproofing membrane system.
Via the nanotechnology waterproofing system, contractors only need to spray an invisible coat of liquid solution onto the tiles to prevent water leaks.
Meanwhile, the overlaying waterproofing membrane system requires the application of resin-based waterproofing membrane coating on the existing tiles.
These repair methods are much faster and less intrusive, so they’re great for those who do not wish to hack their toilet tiles, or want to keep their existing finishes in their toilets. The work can be completed within a day, instead of three and a half days, which is how long it would typically take for hacking the tiles.
Hopefully if or when these methods are implemented, it would encourage more neighbours to cooperate and resolve their issues amicably.

Need Help With HDB Ceiling Leaks and Water Seepage? Contact Sendhelper

If you are worried about your leaking ceiling, Sendhelper provides handyman services. From small fixes to larger repair jobs, you’ll be able to find a handyman to assist you with all manner of electrical, plumbing, painting, and furniture assembly tasks.
Sendhelper is a professional home services brand provider that also offers cleaning and deep cleaning services. So, if you need a hand in dealing with the mess a leaking ceiling creates, they’re there to help too.
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More FAQs Related to HDB Ceiling Leak and Water Seepage

You may also approach HDB for help and under the Goodwill Repair Assistance (GRA) scheme. Under this scheme, HDB will pay for 50% of the cost, and the remaining 50% will be split between the upstairs and downstairs residents.

Water seepage happen where there are cracks on the wall, if there’s a pipe leak, or during renovations.

If your ceiling is leaking due to wear and tear, you should reach out to your upstairs neighbour to resolve the issue as both of you share the responsibility of repairs. Failing that, you can reach out to HDB for assistance.