A Guide To Temporary Occupation Permit
Buying a new property in Singapore is a very exciting experience, especially when you’re counting down the days to your big move. When that’s said, all new developments, whether a condo, apartment, or an HDB flat, require approval such as a Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) or the Certificate of Statutory Completion (CSC) by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) before anyone can occupy them.
This includes the newly constructed house that you can’t wait to move into! Either TOP or CSC act as a symbolic stamp of approval, showing that a building can be occupied. Provided the developer will follow the necessary procedures, it’s easy to obtain the TOP.
So how does TOP apply to you and does it really matter? Here is our complete guide to the Temporary Occupation Permit in Singapore.
What Is Temporary Occupation Permit?
In Singapore, new buildings require government or rather BCA approval before being occupied by the owner or tenants, and that is where the Temporary Occupation Permit comes into play.
As the name suggests, TOP refers to a temporary permit issued to indicate a property development has complied with certain requirements, and that the owner or tenants can safely occupy the building. Homeowners and tenants should ensure that the building they plan to move into has a Certificate of Statutory Completion (CSC) or TOP. You can check whether TOP for a building has been successfully issued by checking the BCA TOP portal.
In the Singapore real estate market, projects with recent TOP dates are generally newer and much better maintained. This generally helps to increase their rental prices. So, it’s important to check the condo or HDB TOP date when looking to buy or invest in property in Singapore.
The building may only be occupied once a BCA CSC or TOP Singapore has been granted. An application can be made for a CSC once all the conditions have been complied with. It signifies legal finalization and is typically granted after the temporary occupation licence has been issued.
Otherwise, if only a few requirements are met, a TOP can be obtained first before ultimately complying in full with all the requirements for a CSC. The process takes approximately 4 weeks.
The legal document is granted by the Commissioner of Building Control to a given building once it has been successfully completed.  Individuals and property developers normally apply for these documents when they have met all the requirements.
What Is The Difference Between Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) And Certificate Of Statutory Completion (CSC)?
Now that you know what the TOP is in Singapore, you might be wondering what the difference is between TOP and CSC. There are two main differences between the two:
1. Optional vs. Mandatory
Firstly, The TOP is an optional document while the CSC must be obtained and is mandatory. People can apply for the TOP once development is completed and are still acquiring the CSC.
CSC is ranked higher than the TOP. Both documents are meant to confirm the occupancy of premises or a building. In other words, the CSC is a long-term form of the TOP.
2. Different Requirements To Be Met
For a CSC to be obtained, there are many more different requirements to be met by developers than for the TOP. The TOP allows individuals to move into a building before all the amenities have been completed. For example, a condo’s living space might be completed, but additional facilities need to be added to the property such as the parking lots, playground, and swimming pool.
On the contrary, the CSC confirms that every part of the property has been fully completed without any outstanding building works. Obtaining the CSC takes a longer period of time because of the numerous requisites that property developers have to meet. Although the TOP also has certain conditions that the property developer must meet, these are mostly restricted to living spaces.
What Is The Purpose Of Temporary Occupation Permit?
The TOP allows homeowners to:
- Move-in once the property is occupiable, but building works are still in progress.
- Move-in as the developer is still in the process of acquiring the CSC since the standards are more difficult to meet.
The BCA has some strict requirements for developments in Singapore. Every aspect of a building has some major regulations, including its planning, design, implementation, and construction. Once a developer meets some basic criteria, they can then apply for the CSC.
However, the requirements are strict, and there are cases where a property is completed but is still ineligible for a CSC. In such scenarios where an apartment is ready for occupancy but has not yet obtained CSC, the developers can opt to apply for the TOP and the owner or tenant is allowed to move in after the developers have acquired the TOP.
Although applying for a TOP is not as demanding as acquiring a CSC, applying for a TOP still requires one to meet certain guidelines and obtain the necessary clearances from the relevant authorities.
How To Apply For Temporary Occupation Permit?
As we’ve mentioned above, it is the responsibility of the developer to apply for a TOP. If you’re part of the process, however, here are the steps that you need to follow for both Regular TOP and Express TOP.
The application procedure for the regular TOP requires one to follow the following key steps:
- An inspection of the premises and buildings is scheduled with the Building and Construction Authority (BCA). This is usually the responsibility of the developer, who normally chooses an experienced person (either a professional engineer or a registered architect) to schedule and oversee the inspection.
- After a successful site inspection, the required documents (such as the RI Inspection Certificate) from the relevant authorities are submitted and duly accepted. This is also the obligation of the developer.
- Once the required documents are approved, the developer can now go ahead and apply for a TOP from the Commissioner of Building Control, a department of the BCA. The whole process typically takes around 4 weeks.
The application must be made via the CORENET e-Submission System.
But how can you obtain an Express TOP? If you urgently need the TOP, you can obtain the document within a single working day through a fast-track program. To get it, a successful inspection should have been carried out and all the necessary pre-requisites met and documents duly submitted. This express system has a fee of $1000 for a small project and a fee of $500 more for major developments.
The criteria are similar to getting a regular temporary permit within the normal period. This is because the commissioner will similarly ask for compliance documents from the major government departments for the approval of either TOP or CSC.
Here’s the procedure:
- Before the issuance of the TOP, the qualified individual must oversee a joint building inspection with the relevant authorities (usually the BCA) to ensure the works are done in line with the relevant regulations.
- The permit is issued only after a thorough site inspection has been carried out and all the necessary paperwork and clearances from the relevant authorities duly submitted.
Although it is the obligation of the developer to apply for a TOP, here are the steps involved just in case you find yourself involved:
- An inspection of the premises and buildings is scheduled with the Building and Construction Authority (BCA). This is usually the job of the developer, who normally chooses a qualified person (either a professional engineer or a registered architect) to schedule and oversee the inspection process.
- After a successful inspection, the necessary forms and clearances from the relevant authorities are submitted and duly accepted. This is also part of the responsibilities of the developer.
- Once the documents are approved, the developer can now go ahead and apply for a TOP from the Commissioner of Building Control, a department of the BCA. Since this is the express version, you’ll need to pay the requisite fees ($1000 for small projects and $500 more for major developments). All applications are made via the CORENET e-Submission System.
In Singapore, all developments require government-sanctioned approval prior to being occupied. That’s where the Temporary Occupation Permit or TOP can help. This temporary permit allows residents to occupy a given apartment, condo, or premises. As the owner or renter, you want to ensure that the premises or building you’re planning to move to have a TOP or CSC.
Application for both the CSC and TOP should be made via the CORENET e-Submission System. The relevant application form and other documents can also be downloaded from the same portal.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you better understand the TOP application procedure and why it actually matters. Good luck with your home-ownership journey!
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