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Bigger say for high-rise building owners
11/12/2006 The Sun By B. Suresh Ram

KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 11, 2006): The days when developers of high-rise apartments lord over their property in the initial years -- sometimes making decisions against the interest of their buyers -- will soon be over.

Under the Building and Common Property (Maintenance and Management) Bill 2006 which will go through the second reading in the Dewan Rakyat this week, the buyers and the developer will have to form a "Joint Management Body" to manage the affairs and interests of the owners, before strata titles are issued.

Now, buyers depend on the developer to manage their common property and other maintenance issues until they get their strata titles to enable them to form management corporations. But, as experience has shown, getting the strata titles can take many years, during which time the developer may take actions, like imposing charges, that are unfair to the buyers. In some cases, the developers renege on their duties and fail to maintain the common areas well, causing the value of the property to drop.

After the Bill is passed by Parliament and gazetted, developers of high-rise property which had been handed over to buyers must convene a meeting of the joint body, the latest 12 months after the Act comes into effect.

The quorum is one-quarter of the purchasers who had paid their maintenance charges. If this quorum is not met half an hour after the meeting starts, those present can constitute a quorum.

In the event that nobody turns up, or if those present refuse to be office-bearers, the developer has to inform the building commissioner (a post that will be set up under a new law) who will take prescribed measures to overcome the problem.

In the interim, the developer is responsible for maintenance works.

The Bill provides for a fine of not more than RM20,000 or a jail term not exceeding three months or both, if the developer fails to convene the meeting.

These are the duties of the proposed "Joint Management Body":

  • It will be a corporate body, and can sue and in turn, be sued;

  • At its inaugural meeting, the body will elect office-bearers to decide on the monthly maintenance fee to be paid by purchasers and decide on the interest rate payable by purchasers on late payment;

  • To maintain the common property and keep it in good and serviceable repair;

  • To determine and impose charges necessary for the repair and proper maintenance of common property;

  • To insure the building against fire and such other risks;

  • Comply with notices and order made by the local authority;

  • Prepare and maintain a register of all purchasers; and,

  • Ensure the building maintenance fund is audited.

The powers of the body shall be:

  • Collect from purchasers maintenance and management charges;

  • Authorise expenditure to carry out maintenance and management of common property; and

  • To make house rules for proper management of the building.

The Bill covers all strata-title property, including those built on commercial land like serviced apartments.


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