Housing tribunal to decide
18/01/2003 NST-PROP By Eileen Ng
Tribunal chairman will determine whether to hear pre-Dec 1 disputes or not
Aggrieved house buyers who signed their sale and purchase agreements (SPA) before Dec 1, 2002 are also eligible to file their claims against developers with the Housing Tribunal.
However, it will be up to the tribunal chairman to decide whether to hear their cases or not, said Housing and Local Government minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting after launching PJ Development Holding Group's Hartamas Regency condominiums in Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur last week.
He said the Ministry has sought the advice of the Attorney-General's Chambers and found that the tribunal chairman has the power to independently interpret the Housing Development Act.
"To file a complaint, buyers will go to the tribunal which will refer the dispute to the chairman who will then interpret both the old and new Acts to see whether the complaints can be heard. The ministry will not interfere with the chairman's duty," said Ong, adding that previously, there had been concern that the Housing Tribunal would only be accessible to house buyers who had signed their SPAs on or after Dec 1.
He said the tribunal cannot ignore or reject cases brought to it and must act in accordance with the contents of the SPA.
In saying that he is satisfied with the preparations being made, Ong revealed that the tribunal has already received a few cases and is currently processing them. He added he would leave it to the chairman to fix the hearings of these claims on appropriate dates.
He said the Ministry is going to appoint a deputy chairman and five additional members who are experts in judicial matters to the tribunal. In total, there will be seven people capable of hearing seven cases at any one time.
The Housing Development Act was gazetted on Jan 31 last year and came into operation on Dec 1. Its purpose is to provide better protection to house buyers as well as housing developers.
Its purview, however is limited to claims not exceeding RM25,000 per complaint, and it will only hear cases between a developer and its initial buyer, or a party who buys the property from the initial buyer. Cases involving subsequent purchasers do not come under the tribunal.