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Together we stand
01/05/2003Published in Malaysian Business - Housing & Property By National House Buyers Association of Malaysia

Residents' associations may go a long way towards creating a successful community

If there's one volunteer organisation you're going to contribute your time and interest to, make it your residents' committee. Housing projects - big or small, high-rise or in rows - will comprise a community of owners sharing the common areas, roads, parks, recreational facilities... and housing woes (if any).

With such shared ownership comes shared responsibility, and co-owners must come together in an association to protect their interests. In Malaysia, such an association of owners is called Residents Association (RA) if the building is completed, or Pro Tem Committee/Association (PTC/A) if the building is under construction and the owners have formed an association 'for the time being' in order to solve impending problems.

It is not uncommon to read in the papers of residents, alarmed by an increase in criminal activities such as cars being stolen or rampant snatch-thieves, forming an association to fight this crime. The latest call was by the Minister of Housing & Local Government Datuk Ong Ka Ting in his parliament speech for buyers of abandoned projects to form such a committee.

The National House Buyers Association (HBA) has always urged owners to form associations to look after their own interest as soon as they have made their purchase. Together, house owners have the advantage of numbers. We have always advocated self-help as complete reliance on others, such as developers or the authorities, to look after your interests is not wise.

An association of owners formed, even as early as the construction period, will be advantageous in serving the community. These are some reasons for forming one:

  • To act as a watchdog for the future community
  • To have a cohesive voice in the interest of the community
  • To be organised when there is a need for contacts and communication
  • To share the workload
  • To share resources and ideas to maintain or improve the community
  • To volunteer for a good cause towards an enjoyable life in the community

Purchasers of subdivided building such as apartments and condominiums have more reasons to form a committee as at some point in time, they are obligated to form a management corporation. By the time a meeting is called by the developer to form one, the owners would have known each other well, making election of fellow owners to the management council an easier task.

HBA has helped form or revive more than 50 associations of house owners. The crucial first step is getting a few owners from the project to volunteer. Without them, there will be no associations. These are the steps that can be carried out to form an association.

  1. Formally request the developer to form one in order for the developer to give out the list of other buyers
  2. If the developer has a website on the Internet, request that a page be set up for owners to interact
  3. Place an advertisement in the local papers - look out for pages that offer free advertisements if resources are limited
  4. Post messages on HBA's forum page.
  5. Distribute details of owners keen to form an association to other owners, if the building has been completed, by way of flyers or notices.
  6. Check with HBA if an association for that particular project has been formed.

The next step is the election of members to form a committee. Most committees have between 12 and 15 members. Committees with fewer people tend to be unrepresentative and more will make it difficult to operate. Every member of a committee has an important role to play and contribution to make. The three keys roles in any committee are the chairperson, the treasurer and the secretary.

The chairperson is responsible for the smooth running of meetings, allowing all members to have their say, guiding the association in its objectives and acting as spokesperson on its behalf when necessary. It is a vital position.

The treasurer's role is to look after the association's monies, and to keep a record of all transactions.

The secretary is the association's point of contact with its members and involves writing letters on its behalf, organising and keeping records of meetings.

Once an association of mutual interest owners has been formed and a committee has been elected, write to the developer and the relevant authorities to inform them of the existence of such a committee and the key people to communicate with.

Do not wait until you have project delays or other major problems before you think of starting an association. Share happy times too - the pleasure of your new home is enhanced when you know your neighbours.

Good dialogue and careful advance planning among owners, developers and relevant authorities go a long way toward creating a successful community.


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