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Kajang Council offers partial remedy to Venice Hill problem

NST 10/03/2001 By Jennifer Gomez

A Partial remedy to the plight faced by owners of Venice Hill Condominium and Golf Resort in Ulu Langat, Selangor has been offered by the Kajang Municipal Council.

A council spokesman said it was prepared to legalise Tower Nine - one of the two "illegal" highrise blocks in the project - if the developer paid a fine of RM452,296,60 for not having obtained building plans approval before it started construction work.

However, the spokesman said the council was not prepared to talk about legalising the other block - Tower 10 - as the developer had been unable to provide proof to the council that the conversion fee for the entire Venice Hill development from agricultural to residential use had been paid.

The absence of building plan approval was not the only problem plaquing purchasers of Venice Hill Towers Seven and Eight in the development had no Certificate of Fitness, despite vacant possession having been given two years ago.

The New Straits Times reported last week that the developer, Venice Hill Resort Living Sdn. Bhd., had not obtained building plan approvals for two of the highrise blocks in the project although they had been virtually completed and sold. The developer is a member of the Li-Foong Group of Companies.

Of the project's 10 blocks, one known as Tower Nine was completed in 1997 while another, Tower 10, was 80 per cent completed. The handover of Tower 10 had been delayed almost three years.

A statement from the Housing and Local Government Ministry's licensing and advisory services section said the licence and advertising permit number printed on advertising paraphernalia for Tower Nine was "only valid for blocks three to eight of the development."

"There is no developer's licence and advertising and sales permit issued for the 550 units in Towers Nine and 10," the statement added.

Commenting on the matter, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting said the Ministry would ask the developer why action should not be taken against it.

"If a valid reason isn't produced, we would bring them to court. What has been happening in the past is that some developers are not worried about this because the penalty is not that high," Ong said.

He added that a higher penalty that had a deterrent effect was one of the issues that had been proposed under the new Act.

"At present, the Act provides for the developer to be blacklisted but then the damage would have already been done," he said.

In a recent High Court decision, Justice Datuk R.K. Nathan ruled that a buyer of a unit in Venice Hill could void his Sale and Purchase Agreement because the necessary permits and licences for development of Towers Nine and 10 in the project were not obtained.

The judgement followed an attempt by a financial institution to foreclose on a property.

The borrower claimed that since the agreement was illegal, the loan agreement, which was dependent on it, was also illegal and void.

Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (Rehda) president Datuk Eddy Chen said VHRL is not a member of the association, but said: "Any developer found to be in breach of the rules and regulations under the Housing Developers Act should be dealt with according to the provisions in the Act."

"If the allegations against this developer is true, then it is up to the Ministry and the local council to take the developer to court."

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