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54pc rise in complaints against developers

30/01/1999 NST By Anis Kamil

Kuala Lumpur, Fri - There was a 554 per cent increase in the number of complaints against housing developers in 1998 compared with the previous year, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Dr Ting Chew Peh said today.

A total of 1,135 complaints were recorded in 1998 as opposed to 737 in 1997, an increase of 398. Previously, he said the average number of complaints was 500 per year.

"I was quite surprised and asked for an explanation," Ting said.

"I was told one reason is that from the aspect of enforcement, more inspections were carried out and the department was more open, making it easier for people to lodge their complaints."

Other reasons cited: homebuyers' increased awareness of their rights and the economic crisis which might have resulted in delays in completion of houses.

Ting was speaking to reporters after opening the sixth International Real Estate Exhibition & Convention 1999 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

The most frequent complaint was shoddy workmanship or defective houses amounting to 192 complaints. Ting said the developers and contractors were usually the ones responsible.

The second most common reason (151) was for late payment for damages or compensation for delayed handover of the unit. Third, with a total of 114, were disputes over the cost of maintenance fees between the developer and the unit owner.

"When we receive the complaints we try to solve or work the problem out. I am happy to say we had an 85 per cent success rate in solving these problems."

Buyers whose problems could not be solved were advised to refer their cases to the courts as the agreement between the developers and buyers constituted a contract between the parties.

Under existing law, while the ministry maintained a list of irresponsible developers, it was unable to legally blacklist these companies.

"Administratively, however, the ministry can prevent errant developers from starting a new project by not issuing a license for the project," he explained.

However, Ting was quick to point out that the high number of complaints did not mean Selangor had the most irresponsible developers; it had the most housing projects compared to other States.

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