high rise littering HDB singapore. fine $2000

Those found guilty of littering from a residential flat face a fine of up to $2,000 for their first conviction. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

From July 2023, flat owners will be found guilty of littering from their residences if they cannot prove within a given time that they are not responsible for the offence.

Fine up to $10,000 from July 2023

Those found guilty of littering from a residential flat face a fine of up to $2,000 for their first conviction, $4,000 for their second one, and $10,000 for third and subsequent convictions. They could also be made to undergo a Corrective Work Order, cleaning public areas for up to 12 hours.

New Presumption of Guilt Clause

The new presumption clause was announced in Parliament on Jan 9, 2023, with the National Environment Agency (NEA) stating on Friday that it would strengthen existing legislation by “placing greater onus on flat owners and tenants to prevent such acts”.

Here is what you need to know about the change.

1. How will the presumption clause be applied?

The clause applies only when NEA establishes that a littering act has been committed from a residential flat. Most of the time, video evidence will be available to investigators, and the flat owners or tenants will be able to rebut the presumption during these investigations.

However, even if information is provided on the identity of the offender, this does not automatically mean that he will be prosecuted for the offence.

2. How much time do flat owners have to prove that they did not commit the offence?

Fourteen days. During this timeframe, they will either have to prove that they were not in the flat during the time of the offence or that they could not have been the offender.

Otherwise, they may provide the identity of the person who is likely to have littered, with NEA issuing a summons to the presumed offender after the time period is up.

HDB Rules and Regulations: 9 Things that Singaporeans love and hate

3. What if the flat owner misses NEA’s letter during this window?

If the flat owner misses NEA’s letter, he may make a representation to the agency. He will need to prove that he had genuinely missed the letter. For example, he could show NEA his air tickets or boarding passes if he was overseas during the timeframe given. NEA will assess the representation and may withdraw summonses on a case-by-case basis.

4. What if the flat owner or tenant who littered is elderly or less able?

NEA has an existing enforcement framework for those from vulnerable groups, including children. In such cases, the offenders or their family members can write to the agency and provide relevant supporting documents, which the agency will then review. NEA will consider the relevant circumstances of each case before taking action, which possibly includes issuing a warning.

5. What if there are multiple owners of a flat?

Every registered owner of a residential flat, or tenant if the flat is leased in its entirety, will be subject to the presumption clause.

6. What if one of the rooms is rented out?

The flat owner will still be presumed to be the offender. However, flat owners will be given a chance to rebut this if they are able to prove that they were not home at the time of the offence, that they could not have been the ones who littered, or by giving the identity of the person who is the likely offender. Depending on the information provided, NEA will conduct further investigations.

This article was first published in The Straits Times.