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Caveat emptor?
01/01/2004 Published in Malaysian Business - Housing & Property By National House Buyers Association

`A good property developer touches no man's fortune; seeks no plunder; causes no disturbance in society; gives no trouble to Members of Parliament; needs no trade association to protect its interests; contemplates no violence; subverts no order; accepts no gift, nor asks any favor; knows what after sales service is.'

This is the ideal form of relationship between prospective buyers and the property developer. However, in reality, the current scenario is quite different and contrary to the expected norms of what is right. The state of affairs that exists today is a sorry commentary on the fact that property developers do not stand up to their end of the deal.

We often find gross deficiencies at various levels on the part of property developers when it comes to the actual delivery of any kind of property. There is no available statistic on the number of non-residential property buyers aggrieved by developers, but somehow we believe that it is a substantial amount.

Whereas residential property buyers are given protection under the Housing Development (Control & Licensing) Act, there is hardly any legislation or law for the protection of non-residential property buyers.

While it is not possible to develop residential projects without including commercial development in new housing areas, the same protection is not accorded to the commercial property buyers.

Why is this so? We have no answer for this. Unless buyers of commercial property wake up and seek for a law for their protection, it will be a long time before a law to protect their interest will be formulated.

HBA has written articles on the need to regulate the control and licensing of developments in commercial properties, such as shop lots,bungalow lands, complex, factories and service apartments. It certainly has not fallen on deaf ears with the recent reiteration by the Minister of Housing and Local Government Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting to seek power to monitor errant developers of commercial properties developers.

Without any form of legal control on the sale of new commercial properties, it is down to the adage `let the buyer beware', but with legal control, it becomes `let both buyers and vendors beware'. Often, service apartment and bungalow-lot buyers are caught by surprised when told that their purchase is not covered under the Housing Act. Our advice for buyers of `off-the-plan' commercial properties is to check with their lawyers first on the terms and conditions of their purchase before they even pay a

And for commercial property buyers who are facing problems, for example abandoned projects, no certificate of fitness for occupation, no utilities supply, our advice is for you to band together with the other purchasers to seek legal redress. Readers are urged to surf our website for constant updates on the housing industry.


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