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Abandoned houses: A danger in our midst
15/01/2007 The Star

APART from being “eyesores,” abandoned houses and buildings pose a danger to residents as such places have proven to be a major contributor to crime. 

Data in the Klang Valley show that vacant houses and shoplots were used by bad hats to commit rape, sodomy and, in the worst cases, even murder. 

Abandoned buildings are often a haven for drug addicts who would sniff or smoke drugs there.  

Often, desperate to buy drugs, these same people would be involved in snatch thefts, house break-ins and petty thefts. 

Source of trouble: An abandoned house in Section 17, Petaling Jaya, that might be used by thieves and drug addicts.

Some thieves even bore holes through the walls of abandoned houses to loot valuables and goods from the neighbouring houses.  

Abandoned homes are also a popular choice for irresponsible quarters to dump rubbish and other waste – a despicable act often carried out by those living outside the neighbourhood. 

Abandoned houses were the main cause of the surge in dengue cases in USJ11, Subang Jaya, last year. 

In some abandoned houses, snakes take refuge in the compounds that are overgrown with lallang, causing the neighbours to live in fear.  

All these problems point to a clear fact: abandoned buildings are the source of crime, social ills and killer diseases and we cannot continue to close our eyes.  

Logically, nobody would want to live next door to an abandoned house as they know too well what would be coming their way; fear, frustration, anxiety and anger.  

Therefore, it is high time the government opened its eyes and see the many problems arising from abandoned buildings or homes. 

Under the Local Government Act 1976, the Town and Country Planning Act 1976 and the National Land Code, the authorities are empowered to enter and take action in a vacant premises for safety and security reasons. 

If the abandoned building becomes a nuisance in the neighbourhood, it should be demolished. 

If the owners of the premises are not traceable, residents' associations (RA) and Rukun Tetangga (RT) units could organise gotong-royong sessions to clean up such places and, if necessary, seek funding to fence up the abandoned buildings while the authorities initiate a permanent solution to the problem. 

Better still, if there no one comes forward to claim ownership of abandoned homes, the law should allow the government to refurbish and offer them to the homeless or charity organisations. 

Perhaps when this becomes a reality, we can all sleep well without worrying whether the house next door is abandoned.


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