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Need to safeguard new buildings
The Star 24/1/05

Property Talk: A weekly column by S.C. Cheah 

OVER the past few weeks, we have been inundated with gory photos of deaths and destruction wrought by the Asian tsunami.  

In Selangor, there is an even more insidious form of destruction that has been going on for years - the wanton vandalism of properties. 

I've been harping on this issue but my appeals seem to have fallen on deaf ears.  

Hundreds of millions of ringgit worth of property in the state are being so badly vandalised that the “human vultures” are stripping off anything they could lay their hands on. 

It will cost a lot of money for the property owners to fix things back again and judging from the situation, owners seem to have resigned to their fate as it is pointless replacing the window frames and doors as there is no guarantee that the thieves will not be back again. 

The crooks are so bold that they can remove hundreds of window frames from the walls overnight.  

They have pulled out electrical wirings and casings and even carted off water closets.  

Shop offices in Bukit Sentosa 3 in Rawang vandalised

Blocks of factories, shop offices and shop apartments look like hollow hulks.  

Power sub-stations and letterboxes have been damaged.  

Among the worst hit areas are Bandar Bukit Beruntung and Bukit Sentosa in Rawang where commercial centres in the Jalan Kemboja, Jalan Telipot, Jalan Trompet and Jalan Kasturi areas have been badly vandalised.  

Even steel frames used as part of the buildings' facade had been also stripped off. 

During one of my recent outings, I was horrified to find that the newer of the two commercial centres in Jalan Kemboja in Bukit Sentosa 3 had been transformed into a sort of “war zone”.  

More than a year ago all the window frames were still intact and the shop offices looked new in the Jalan 2A to Jalan 2C areas.  

About six to eight months ago, all the windows and most of the shutters had vanished. 

The situation has deteriorated when I dropped in recently. 

Tall grass lined the front of the shop offices and glass splinters covered a large section of the roads there.  

It seems that the thieves and vandals have become impatient and have crudely knocked off remaining window frames when in the past they had skilfully removed them without breaking the glass panes. 

The older commercial centre in Jalan Kemboja (Jalan 3A to 3F areas) had also not been spared despite owners putting up grilles in front of the staircase for each block.  

Burst pipes sprinkled water all over the place.  

A man who had driven there to check on his property in Jalan Kemboja complained aloud to someone over his mobile phone. 

“If only they had some form of security such thefts and vandalism would not have occurred,” he lamented.  

Who is going to pay for the security maintenance?  

Some owners may be willing to do so, but there are many purchasers who have not bothered to pay their assessment rates and maintenance charges for years.  

Many developers have moved on and have not returned to their former projects for a long time. Some just turned a blind eye. 

Perhaps the authorities can freeze applications to build more commercial units in a development where there are still many vacant and unsold commercial units.  

The authorities should also consider the feasibility of requiring developers to provide adequate security especially for a commercial centre for at least two to three years upon completion of their projects. This would help safeguard properties for the first few years until the people have moved into their units or start business operations. The developers can either be made to foot the security bill or they can volunteer to pay for it or claim part of the expenses from the property owners. 

Meanwhile, such scenes of “destruction” can also be found in Pulau Indah, Semenyih, Kesuma Lakes' commercial centre, Lembah Beringin, Prima Beruntung, Puchong, and many other developments that have been completed for years but are largely vacant. 

Many of these vacant properties have been put up for auction but response is still poor as people shun them partly because of their ''cold” locations or because of their bad condition.  

Property values have dived drastically.  

A 680-sq ft third floor office unit in a four-storey mid-terraced shop office building in Jalan Kemboja 3B in Section BS8, Bukit Sentosa 3 was offered for auction at a reserved price of only RM12,915 in September 2003.  

The developer's price was about RM43,980 in 1997. A 615-sq ft freehold fourth floor low-cost flat in the newly-completed Pangsa Rakyat in Pajam was offered for auction at a reserved price of RM32,400 in August last year. When there were no bidders, the reserved price was dropped by RM3,200 to RM29,200 within a month, but there was still no takers. This is a nice development but there are still many empty units. 

An auction that I attended at the Amcorp Trade Centre in Petaling Jaya on Jan 13 saw only four out of 40 properties sold that day. A 982-sq ft factory unit on the first floor at the Kepong Entrepreneurs Park offered at a reserved price of RM70,000 was sold for RM87,000. A similar unit on the same block but on the second floor was sold at a reserved price of RM60,000 to a lone bidder. 

Auctioneer Leong Why Hoong said in the past, many people shunned from buying auctioned properties because of the stigma attached to these properties. However, these days, some wealthy people were prepared to pay more than the market price for auctioned properties that were in good locations, he added.  

This goes to show that vacant units, if properly rehabilitated and have good security, could still regain some of their values and might even fetch a reasonable return to the astute investor.  

As it is, no one seems to care and these properties are becoming worthless. 


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