developers, for now
NST 30/05/2004 By K.T. Chelvi
and Local Government Minister Datuk Sri Ong Ka Ting recently
declared that errant developers would not be given new licences. Ong
said this was to prevent abandoned projects as well as numerous
other problems faced by house buyers.
Finally, a panacea for the woes of house buyers
everywhere? Abandoned projects are not new; it has been the
construction industry's perpetual pain in the behind since the 80's.
And for the buyers who have been left in the lurch, the pain is more
intense. It is therefore heartening to note that after about 20
years, the authorities have finally got around to finding a
Other problems plaguing buyers include the late
delivery of properties, shoddy workmanship, and the failure to
obtain certificate of fitness and strata titles.
In 2002, the House Buyers Association (HBA), a
non-governmental organisation, championing the cause of house
buyers, received 105,000 complaints.
The most number of complaints concerned strata
titles, followed by maintenance, certificate of fitness, late
delivery of houses and shoddy workmanship. Abandoned housing
projects accounted for six per cent of the total number complaints
received that year. According to the Local Government and Housing
Ministry statistic for the same year, 447 of the 1,926 complaints
were on late delivery of properties, followed by 287 complaints on
Complaints are expected to rise in tandem with the
number of houses being built. According to HBA, buyers are exposed
to exploitation the moment they decide to shop for a property.
More often than not, buyers are so drawn to the
sophisticated marketing tactics and attractive artist's impression
that they fail to notice the developer's disclaimer.
The disclaimer in fine print usually reads:
"The information contained is subject to change and cannot form part
of an offer or contract. All measurements are approximate ... the
developer cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies."
So a dream house in the Garden of Eden may end up
being a house on a barren piece of land. And the buyer may not be
able to do anything as the "sales gimmick" is not part of the sale
and purchase contract.
HBA adds that this is precisely the reason why
developers keep using misleading advertisements to entice buyers.
Other misleading gimmicks include the "proposed
highway" which may never materialise during the buyers' life time,
"growth potential" whereby buyers believing this claim have ended up
with shoplots in a satellite ghost town, and "guaranteed returns" -
which may also not materialise. The association also warns the
buyers to be cautious over claims of "free legal fees" which are
becoming a standard practice.
"These lawyers are actually paid by the developers
and will end up looking after their interest and not the buyers
should a dispute arise," according to an article posted on the
The Housing and Local Government Ministry's
decision to award licences to only scrupulous developers may be a
start - but it is not enough to settle all the woes of the house
House buyers - the party with the weaker
bargaining power - need to be protected from
misrepresentation, shoddy workmanship and host of problems which
seems to have become part and parcel of owning a home.
The ministry could probably start by guaranteeing
the enforcement of the new and much improved Housing Developers
(Control and Licensing) (Amendment) Act 2002.