Tribunal a big letdown
Sunday Star By Yeoh Bee Leng
With the setting up of the Housing Tribunal on Dec 1 last year, house-buyers are ironically, worse off than before.
Last October, I approached the Consumer Tribunal to ask for help in resolving a problem I had with my developer.
However, I was told that since the Housing Tribunal was in the process of being set up, the Consumer Tribunal had stopped hearing cases against housing developers.
I was greatly encouraged to learn there was going to be a tribunal especially for housing and waited eagerly for the announcement of its launch.
However, when the Housing Tribunal finally opened its doors, it was a real letdown. I was utterly dismayed to learn that the tribunal would deal only with complaints pertaining to properties bought after its launch on Dec 1.
To add insult to injury, tribunal secretary Wan Hussein Wan Hassan was recently reported to have said that no housing dispute had been referred to it since it was set up a month ago.
Was he expecting otherwise?
The main complaints of house buyers are late delivery and shoddy workmanship. Since, the tribunal accepts only cases regarding houses bought after Dec 1, and the minimum period for the completion of a house is 24 months, there is naturally a dearth of complaints until December next year at the earliest.
In the meantime, while waiting for the bulk of the complaints to be filed from January 2005, what does the tribunal do to justify its existence?
As a tax-payer and house-buyer, I urge the Attorney General not to delay any longer in empowering the tribunal to hear complaints of house buyers who have yet to receive keys to their houses from developers, regardless of when the sale and purchase agreement was signed.
The plight of long-suffering house buyers should be the top concern of the tribunal. If the tribunal remains inactive, hundreds of house buyers would be short-changed not only by unscrupulous developers but, ironically, by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government as well.
Let fair play and justice prevail.
Yeoh Bee Leng,