TOP? CSC? OMG?
Buying a new house in Singapore – like new new, haven’t-even-build-kind-of-new – is always exciting, especially the final countdown to the day you can finally move in.
That said, all buildings in Singapore need approval by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) before they can be occupied, including the newly built flat you’re all too excited to move in to ASAP.
But with so many different dates thrown at you: TOP date, CSC date, Vacant Possession Date… How do you know when exactly you’re officially allowed to move in?
Let’s first define these terms:
The Certificate of Statutory Completion (CSC) is the permit that’s granted once all of the building requirements have been met. In summary, it means everything about your new home is A-OK.
But because it takes quite some time to get the CSC, developers can first apply for a Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) that’s, well, temporary, as long as the key requirements such as sanitary and safety specifications are met.
Once the TOP has been obtained, you’re all set to collect your keys and move in to your new home! Meanwhile, developers will still have to obtain the CSC.
But wait… So I’m moving in although non-key requirements aren’t met? Will my walls crumble? Will I feel the building swaying on a windy day?
Ok, that’s exaggerated, but point is, you’re safe. There are a few possible reasons why the TOP can be granted but not the CSC (none of which will endanger your life), such as:
- Your condo building is ready, but the facilities are still under construction: Since the units are already completed, homeowners can move into their new homes even though the condo development as a whole might not be entirely completed.
- Minor deviations from any approved plan of building works: Installing a timber deck by the playground doesn’t sound at all life-threatening, but if it wasn’t mentioned in the building plan submitted to the BCA, this might delay the process of getting the CSC.
What these dates mean for you
The Vacant Possession Date, which will be stated in your sales contract, is the latest date that the developer is contractually bound to hand over the keys to your unit.
Any later than that, and the developer will have to compensate you.
In other words, you can safely use this date to plan your home-moving journey accordingly.
If you’re buying a new launch condo, the price of your condo will be made progressively.
The biggest sums of payment are due when the condo is approaching completion: 25% upon obtaining the TOP, and 15% upon obtaining the CSC.
For the BTO folks, the balance of the purchase price of your HDB flat – basically whatever wasn’t paid as downpayment – is also due at the point of key collection.
Defects liability period
Defects in your unit aren’t covered by the TOP or CSC, so before you get all comfy in your new home, be sure to check for anything that looks wonky.
There’ll be a 12-month defects liability period, beginning from the date you collect your keys or the Vacant Possession Date, whichever is earlier, during which the developer is obliged to fix any defect in your unit caused by their oversight.
Look out for these more commonly reported defects:
- poorly built flooring e.g. misaligned tiles
- cracks in the walls
- leaky taps or sinks, or poor water pressure
- faulty power points
For condo owners, your developer would have briefed you on how to report any defects. (These days, most developers have an online system for doing so.)
For HDB flat owners, report any defects via HDB’s online form, or to the temporary Building Services Centre, which will be set up near your new flat.
The (most) important things to know
Ok, if anything, know this short and sweet version:
You’ll be able to move in to your new home once either the TOP or the CSC has been obtained. The developer should provide you with more detailed updates once they’re closer to completing the BTO or condo project.
Once you move in (or should we say, even before you move anything in), check for defects in your unit and report them using the portals provided.
And that’s about it!
Getting a BTO flat or a newly launched condo? Plan your timeline meticulously so you don’t find yourself without a roof over your head during interim periods.