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Housing: Higher legal fees proposed
05/05/2004 NST

KUALA LUMPUR, Tues. - Housebuyers may soon have to pay a few thousand ringgit more in legal fees.

The proposal to raise the fees was approved at the recent Malaysian Bar annual general meeting, and is now before the Chief Justice.

Bar Council vice-chairman Yeo Yang Poh said the council had written to the CJ, who is expected to fix a date for the Bar Solicitors' Costs Committee to decide on the proposal.

He was confident that the increase would be supported. The 11,000 Bar members approved the resolution at an AGM in March. The last adjustment in conveyancing fees was approved in 1991.

The proposal is a one per cent charge for the first RM500,000 and 0.8 per cent for the next RM500,000. This means the legal fee for a RM1 million home would be RM9,000, up from the present RM5,500.

Buyers at present pay RM1,500 in legal fees for a RM200,000 home, but under the proposed revision, it will cost RM500 more.

However, purchasers of houses valued at RM30,000 and below would have to pay a flat rate of RM200 for the drawing-up of sale and purchase agreements, and RM80 for transfer forms.

Lawyer Derrek Fernandez, a member of the council's sub-committee on Conveyancing Practice, Corporate and Banking Law, said the cost of "professionally attending" to such low-cost houses far exceeded the RM120 fee currently charged.

Legal fees for houses valued between RM30,000 and RM100,000 remain unchanged in the purchase of property under the Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Act 1966.

Another resolution called for the strict enforcement of the present rule barring members from giving discretionary discounts.

Fernandez said it was time the rate was revised as the cost of providing competent legal service had risen because the sale and purchase of property was not standardised.

National Housebuyers' Association of Malaysia secretary-general Chang Kim Loong has also proposed an alternative scheme of legal fees to the Bar Solicitors' Costs Committee.

It suggests that buyers of RM42,000 property, classified as low-cost homes, be charged a flat rate of RM120. For property exceeding RM42,000 but under RM200,000, the rate should be RM500, he proposed.

For property above RM200,000 but under RM500,000, a 50 per cent rebate should be given, he said.


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