Is condominium living for you?
01/06/2003 Published in Malaysian Business
- Housing & Property By National House Buyers Association of Malaysia
Questions to ask if you're thinking of buying a condo
People buy condominiums for a myriad of reasons. Many condominiums have security
services and amenities.
If you are thinking about buying a condominium unit to live in, here are
some questions to consider:
1) Are you a good neighbour?
Condominium residents share walls, floors/ceilings, hallways, entrances and
parking areas with their neighbors. Respect for other people's right to the
quiet enjoyment of their homes is part of the arrangement. Your neighbours will
appreciate (and hopefully reciprocate) your efforts to turn down the volume,
walk softly, close your doors quietly and limit your vacuuming to reasonable
2) Are you willing to follow the community's rules?
In every community, small or big, rules and regulations are required for everyone's
benefit. Condominium owners are bound by the covenants, by-laws and all other
conditions and rules as set by the original proprietor or the Management Corporation
(MC). These various covenants cover everything from special assessments and
the election of the association's officers to the allocation of parking spaces
and the use of recreational facilities. Owners who fail to follow the rules
can be fined, and complaints with the relevant authorities for seizure of an
owner's property can be made if the fines or assessments are not paid. I
4) Are you comfortable with joint financial responsibility?
The management and maintenance of a condominium depends on the contribution
from all owners through monthly payments of maintenance charges and regular
contributions in the building fund and other payments. Delinquent payments will
cause disruption to the management and, in the long run, affect the overall
look of the condominium. You should feel comfortable about paying your maintenance
charges for as long as you are the owner of the unit.
Condominium owners, must also come to an agreement (by consensus or vote) on
a variety of maintenance and repair matters. Should an older roof, unreliable
security gate or re-painting be replaced or considered this year or next year?
Should a special assessment be collected for an emergency repair or extra service?
How much money should be spent on landscaping? How many guards are needed?
5) Are you prepared to volunteer your time for association business?
Owners of a condo are all automatically members of the MC, formed under the
Strata Titles Act, 1985. It is also possible for a temporary committee to be
formed before individual strata titles are issued. The MC's office bearers are
made up of volunteer owners. True, some condominium owners never volunteer.
However, your lack of participation will be noticed by your neighbors, particularly
in a smaller building. Being part of the community means you should take your
turn at serving on the board of directors, joining a special committee, getting
estimates for repairs or taking responsibility for other tasks that benefit
the group as a whole. If you're willing to pitch in, you'll earn the gratitude
and respect of your fellow owners.
Ultimately, the decision about whether or not a condo living is right for you
all comes down to your individual preferences and tolerance levels.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
- Consider the total monthly cost of ownership, rather than the price of
the condo unit. In addition to mortgage payments, condominium owners are responsible
for quit rent, assessment tax, insurance, monthly maintenance charges, building
fund, additional car-park rentals etc.
- One attraction of living in a condo is the 24-hour security. However,
with people living in close quarters, there are trade-offs. There is also
a degree of uncertainty about who your neighbours are as condo residents
tend to be more mobile than landed property owners. Condo values tend to depend
very much on the management services and problems will arise if they are not
- For the purchase of a condo unit, the laws governing the sale and purchase
agreement is under Schedule H – Buildings intended for sub-division under
the Housing Development (Control & Licensing) Act. Strata Titles Act, 1985
covers everything regarding strata titles including the formation of a Management
Corporation and the duties of developers and condo owners.
- If a condominium is still under developer control (which means individual
strata titles have not been issued), the governing documents and rules that
unit owners, their tenants, guests are to obey are decided by the Developer
from the SPA date. These governing documents and rules go by different names
depending on the developer. Examples include “Deed of Mutual Covenant”, “bylaws”,
“the rules and regulations” or “house rules”.