HBA goes national
Published in NST-PROP
A Buyer Watch Article by National House Buyers
Some two years ago, a small group of individuals, typical
of the Malaysian public at large, nurtured dreams of buying their own homes so that their loved ones would have a permanent roof
over their heads.
Like thousands of other Malaysian house buyers, they naively got themselves committed to purchasing their homes from among the
vast number of housing developers and the wide range of houses available. Little did they realise that they were embarking on the
beginning of a long nightmare.
Like all other house buyers, they signed the Sale and Purchase Agreements (SPAs), coughed up the initial payments, diligently
raised the necessary bank loans to cover the balance and committed themselves to the various progressive payments. But things
started to go wrong when the time came for the developers to hand over the houses. They were kept waiting and heard too may
excuses but the scheduled delivery of the houses did not happen smoothly as per their SPAs.
Up to this stage, the problem faced by the buyers was similar, but what followed took on different courses, some of which were
devastating. Some of the problems included the following:
• Shoddy workmanship, where the buyers felt badly cheated as they received vastly substandard houses.
• Disputes with the developer-controlled management for apartments and condominiums regarding the contribution of funds and the
• Long delays in handing over vacant possession of the houses and facing the indignity of the developers’ blatant refusal to pay
the stipulated LAD (Liquidated and Ascertained Damages) claims. The buyers had to pay additional and unnecessary interest charges
without the benefit of being able to move into their houses.
• Abandoned projects. This was the most confounding of all the housing problems that unfortunate buyers had to grapple with. If
you think it is uncommon, there are buyers who have suffered after buying into one abandoned project, given up hope on seeing the
property completed, bought another one, only to suffer the same fate.
• Certificate of Fitness (CF). It is a mystical document to many house buyers as they have to chase after the CF before they can
occupy or renovate their homes although the keys to their homes were delivered much earlier.
• Strata Titles were not issued and the buyers were not legally able to form a Management Corporation.
• Let down by the relevant authorities who were supposed to have adopted strict supervision and stringent enforcement but instead,
gave them the run-around and exhibited a lackadaisical attitude.
The group of aggrieved house buyers who had gone through the problems mentioned realised that individually, they were no match
against their developers but united, they stood a chance of being heard. So instead of passively wallowing in self-pity or
indulging in inconsequential grouses, they promptly organised themselves into a collective group to jointly seek redress for their
Thus the Pro-tem Committee of the House Buyers Association came into being. It comprised people from all walks of life with a
common aim - to put things right in the housing industry. They vowed not only to strive for their own rights and interests against
wayward developers, but also for the rights and interests of the Malaysian house buying public at large. They wanted to create
awareness that house buyers are important people who, as customers should be treated with the utmost dignity.
The rest, as they say, is history. HBA was born and its motto - Striving for House Buyers’ Rights and Interests - very quickly
The House Buyers Association (Selangor and Federal Territory) was officially registered as a full-fledged association and was
launched by the Minister of Housing and Local Government, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting on 20 April 2001. It operates from its sponsored
premises and is able to conduct weekly “meet the public” sessions (MTPS), where volunteers attend to aggrieved house buyers who
seek their help and advice.
The HBA has so far held 79 MTPS. A question frequently asked by the public is where do we get the financial resources to finance
our activities. The truth is, HBA has no source of financing nor do we have any grant from the Government. The inadequacy of our
financial requirements is overcome by our commitment to see righteousness and fair treatment for house buyers. All volunteers not
only incur their own expenses in HBA-related activities, but also chip in to maintain the office facilities. In a way, it is our
very own in-house community service extended to the public. HBA volunteers have a burning desire to get something done rather than
to wait for someone else do it and we provide out services for free.
At the same time, to prevent our volunteers from getting burnt out from dealing with hostile complainants, we have this slogan,
“Our free service is for nice people only.” Well, the fact that our services are free means that complainants who have come to
seek our help should then be nice enough to cooperate and be prepared to advocate self-help, rather than self-pity. Complainants
need to understand that to resolve their problems, they have to put in effort and assist us in helping them.
HBA adopts a multi-pronged strategy in striving for its objectives. The strategy may be summarised as follows:
1. To promote awareness of house buyers’ legal rights and remedies available and to act as a consultative body for house buyers.
2. To obtain feedback and collect data to assist aggrieved house buyers to collectively form their respective Pro-tem Committee
and Residents’ Association so as to have a cohesive voice.
3. To assist in updating legislation and regulations governing the housing industry.
4. To disseminate information of interest through the newspapers, seminars, conferences, exhibition, talks and screening of films.
For those who approach us with problems encountered after having committed to their house purchases, we embark on various courses
of action. These include:
1. Diagnosing the source of the problem in each of the cases, providing possible solutions and conducting numerous checks through
the government mechanism.
2. Assisting in the preparation of memorandums to be sent to the related governmental agencies to seek governmental intervention
for the buyers’ problems.
3. Arranging for and mediating in dialogues between aggrieved house buyers and their developers. And when situations permit, to
make physical representation at the relevant Ministries on behalf of the aggrieved house buyers.
4. Offering legal, technical and sensible advice on the action that can be taken.
5. Referring matters to the Public Complaints Bureau on the wrongdoing of any government agencies.
6. In its pursuit to see a more orderly environment in the property industry for the benefit of the Malaysian public at large, HBA
volunteers have gone on TV and radio talk shows to highlight the various ills in the property industry. Memorandums had been
forwarded to the related government departments to lobby for better protective laws for house buyers. Regular articles have been
written and published in the media and magazines. Joint sessions with the MCA Public Complaints Bureau and Persatuan Architect
Malaysia (PAM) have been held.
HBA’s Legal Committee has been instrumental in persuading the Housing Ministry to revamp the Housing Developers’ Act 1966 and
participated in the drafting and proposals that resulted in the Amendment to the Act being gazetted on 31 January 2002 for the
better protection of house buyers.
Continual contact is maintained with the various government agencies that are related to housing so that problems faced by house
buyers are promptly brought to the attention of the departments concerned. In its attempt to educate potential house buyers, HBA
has come up with a handbook titled House Buyers Guide, whereby the various pitfalls and hazards in the process of buying a house
are pointed out. HBA also maintains an up-to-date Website (www.hba.org..my) where an enormous amount of information on the various
subjects related to the housing industry are made easily accessible to interested parties.
Within the short period of its existence, HBA has indeed made its presence felt. Aggrieved house buyers who have benefited from
its services should perhaps be saying a silent prayer. Today, HBA is adopting a new dimension in that it has now been designated
as the National House Buyers Association of Malaysia, which will be launched today by Dr Tan Kee Kwong the Deputy Minister of Land
and Cooperative Development.
With the widened span of activities come additional challenges and responsibilities. HBA’s quest to see an orderly environment for
the property industry is far from over. Our volunteers are well aware of such a commitment and will take it upon themselves to
continue to strive for the rights and interests of house buyers and will be spreading our wings to other States nationwide.