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Time for a Property Buyers Protection Act
31/08/2002 Published in NST-PROP A Buyer Watch Article by National House Buyers Association

As we celebrate our 45th birthday of independence, we need to ask whether there are more than enough justifiable reasons for our jubilation.

On the one hand, we must acknowledge the fact that not many nations have had the good fortune of emerging so unscathed from the shackles of colonialism to attain the same degree of success as we have. For this, no one should be singled out for the achievement - we should all share the credit and rejoice.

However, while we do so, we should also pause for a moment to remember those whose lives have been made shambles and who are experiencing real-life nightmares as a result of our progress. Yes, we are talking about the unfortunate home buyers whose dream homes have been abandoned by their developers.

Is it justified to expect these groups of aggrieved house buyers to celebrate this auspicious and historical day ?

Of late, the media has been highlighting a particular group of buyers in Subang, Selangor, who are in such a situation. A lot of action has been taken by this group as well as certain consumer associations, but the silence from the government is discomforting.

We at HBA made some investigations and discovered that the projects in question are not covered by the Housing Development Act because technically and legally, they are service apartment ventures which do not fall under the definition of “housing accommodation.” As a consequence, they fall out of the Ministry of Housing of Local Government’s ambit.

So, which body regulates such a property type? Our finding is disturbing: It is not regulated by any body!

We cannot understand why the authorities have not included non-housing accommodation (such as service apartments, commercial units and industrial premises) in the recently amended Housing Development Act, and why no ministry seems to be tackling the issue.

Presently, it appears that the rules of the jungle are allowed to apply unimpeded to those properties that fall outside the boundaries of housing accommodation. This has to be addressed.

There are large numbers of properties that are, for one reason or another (and some of the reasons could be “cunning” and “deceit”) exempted from the present Housing Development Act. The unregulated situation is creating havoc and thousands are left to suffer financial problems.

Our government has always been very caring and protective of its rakyat. Yet when it comes to buying a property that aren’t “houses”, there seems to be a lack of concern.

Buyers of such categories of properties are left to fend for themselves against the developer giants. Clearly, the protection given to property buyers should not exclude purchasers of commercial units, resort homes, serviced apartments, mixed commercial/residential units and bungalow lots.

HBA would like to propose that the government adopt a wider view of the property industry and perhaps review the present Housing Development Act to make it into the Property Buyers’ Protection Act. Only then can buyers of all properties be accorded the badly needed protection

As of this moment, there are just too many aggrieved people who are shedding silent tears. And we doubt very much that they will be in any mood to join us in celebrating National Day.


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