Enforcing the Act
08/06/2002 Published in NST-PROP
A Buyer Watch Article by National House Buyers
With the gazetting of the amendments, the question is
one of enforcement
The recent announcement that the amendments to the
Housing Developer's Act (1996) has been gazetted was like a breath of fresh air for frustrated house buyers after a prolonged and
suffocating waiting period.
But has the God-sent cure-all formula for the ailing
housing industry finally arrived? Will the heartaches, the headaches and the myriad of woes long suffered by the large number of
Malaysian house buyers become a thing of the past?
We Malaysians are generally very adept at making laws
for many things; from jay-walking to price displays, reckless driving to tinted windscreens. In fact, we are not short of laws on
almost any matters.
Whenever a crisis arises, the first thing that we do is
to initiate crisis management and damage control, both of which we are also pretty good at. Then we institute new or additional
laws, which we are even better at, to supposedly prevent the crisis from happening again. After that we sit back and do nothing
but wait for the same crisis to repeat itself! And the cycle goes on.
A little cynical, perhaps. But to us, justifiably so,
because that appears to be the usual path taken by the many public issues that we have experienced from time to time.
Our message here is that laws will remain laws, unless
the authorities concerned insititute good policing and strict enforcement.
House buyers are tired of non-performing developers
The nagging question in the minds of the Malaysian house
buying public is whether the newly amended Act, which has certainly given the governmental agencies/authorities more clout, will
see improvements from the present situation. We have purposely referred to governmental agencies/authorities and not to any
particular Ministry or department because we strongly feel that a total approach to the problem is essential if we are ever to see
any improvement to the situation.
All players that are involved in the industry have a
role to play. Architects and engineers should conscientiously carry out their duties honestly and professionally. Local councils
and their technical departments should make their decisions professionally, above board and transparent.
Developers should be sincere and truthful and not
exploit the market during good times. They should ensure that they give buyers what they had paid for. Contractors and builders
should not cut costs and take short cuts to maximise profits.
But most of all we feel that however much we plead and
appeal, there will always be the recalcitrant and errant players in the industry who are immune to kind words and appeals of any
For these black sheep of the industry, we implore the
respective authorities to throw the book at them and to take punitive action to the maximum extent of the law. In other words, the
deterrent factor must be compelling enough to make potential black sheep think many times before they attempt to commit to their
From the complaints that we have received, slow or
non-issuance of strata titles top the list. This is not suprising because we are now seeing results of the early batch of
application for strata titles since the implementation of the Strata Titles Act in 1985 and the recent amendments in 2001 to the
A number of the grievances involve disputes over the
payment of dues to the developers before property owners can get their titles. There are also those that involve the owners having
to cough out large amounts of money to pay to the developers for the 'adjusted increase in built-up areas," as they appear in the
This is where the Ministry of Lands and Cooperative
Development, which hitherto has been a dormant player, is thrust into the limelight. We would like to appeal to the Ministry of
Lands to be ultra cautious and professional in their certification of floor areas because ultimately, it is the property buyers
who will have to bear the financial burden for any such "increase".
The question most house buyers ask is, how long does it
take for the strata titles to be issued? Accordingly, there are laws to make developers apply for the strata titles within a
certain period, but who is watching to see if the developer does?
All said, we feel that the Minister of Housing and Local
Government must take the driver's seat to be the prime mover. We are confident that he will have the conviction and the resolve to
see to the proper enforcement of the new Act.
Enforcement is the key to more protection
Concentration should be focused on beefing up
enforcement. All the house buyers want is to buy a home that complies with the law and not fight with their developers.
Only with proper enforcement of the laws will the hopes
and expectations of the large number of long suffering house buyers be realised.
It is fervently hoped that the euphoria that has been
generated by the amendments to the Act is justified and that the situation does not relate itself to the proverbial Malay saying
of "Hangat-hangat tahi ayam". Which translated means 'to be hot for a short while."