What do Town Councils do and who regulates them?
What do Town Councils do and who regulates them?
Answers to some common questions you might have about how your estate is cared for
min read Published on 15 Mar 2021

When you’ve been sweating it out at the outdoor fitness corner and courts, catching up with your neighbour at your void deck or watching your children run around the playground, have you ever wondered who takes care of all these shared spaces? These common properties are kept in good condition by Town Councils which are regulated (but not run) by the Ministry of National Development.

Let’s take a look at the roles they play in making sure your estate and town are well-maintained and serve residents’ needs.

What are Town Councils (TCs)?

TCs were formed in 1989 under the Town Councils Act to empower elected MPs and residents to work together in managing their estates.

Elected MPs have the authority and responsibility to manage the public housing estates in their constituencies, with residents participating in the decision-making process. At least two-thirds of the town council members managing the TC must be residents of the HDB estates in the town. This way, residents have a say in developing their town uniquely.

Presently, there are 17 TCs managing common property in HDB housing estates in Singapore.

What do Town Councils (TCs) do?

TCs control, manage, maintain and improve the common property of the residential and commercial properties within their  towns, to ensure they are in good condition and  benefit residents. Common property includes facilities in the estates built for shared use by residents, such as linkways, gardens, lifts, corridors and void decks.

Some examples of work managed by the TCs are plastering, lift servicing, cleaning works, upgrading of facilities and amenities like playgrounds, and cyclical maintenance like electrical rewiring.

TCs are also responsible for the financial management of their towns. This includes keeping proper accounts and records of their transactions, and ensuring proper financial control over their payments, expenditure and assets.

Who regulates Town Councils (TCs)?

The Ministry of National Development (MND) is the regulator, setting the broad legislative framework to ensure that TCs, as autonomous entities, carry out their functions and duties for the benefit of residents living in their towns and estates.

The required standards of public accountability, transparency and performance for TCs are set out in the Town Councils Act and its subsidiary legislation such as the Town Councils Financial Rules. MND has also introduced programmes and initiatives that promote good governance practices amongst TCs such as the Code of Governance for  TCs.

MND monitors TCs’ performance in key areas to ensure that performance standards are met. MND also assesses TCs’ financial adequacy and administers government grants. To keep residents informed of the performance of their TC, MND publishes the Town Council Management Report every year.

What is the Town Council Management Report (TCMR)?

The TCMR is a regular report that provides residents with objective information about the key areas of estate management, and helps residents engage with their TCs in these areas to jointly improve their towns over time.

Since its implementation in 2009, the TCMR has provided a useful source of feedback to both residents and their TCs on the management of their towns.

The TCMR Framework

The TCMR Framework is reviewed regularly to ensure its relevance in reflecting the key aspects of estate management. The indicators cover 5 areas – Estate Cleanliness, Estate Maintenance, Lift Performance, Service & Conservancy Charges (S&CC) Arrears Management and Corporate Governance – with  results banded as Green, Amber or Red. Check out the TCMR Framework and how your TC is performing here.

Estate inspections

The Estate Cleanliness and Estate Maintenance indicators under the TCMR Framework are based on the data collected from estate inspections of common areas (e.g. common corridors, staircases, void decks, lift lobbies, open spaces) carried out by HDB officers, accompanied by TC staff. These officers are guided by a performance standards checklist during the inspection to ensure consistency in assessment.

Residents can also play a part in upkeeping your estates by keeping common corridors and staircase landings clutter-free to ensure a safe and clean living environment for all.

Ensuring well-managed towns

Effective estate management through the work of TCs and the regulatory role of MND plays an important part in enabling residents to live in homes and estates that are safe, clean, and provide a good living environment that serves their needs.

For more information on how estates and towns are managed, visit the MND website here.