Strong-armed tactics used to
08/01/2007 The Star
Condominium, Apartment and High-rise Committee (CAHC) pro tem assistant
chairman Khong Chee Seng said there are many stories of management
committees (MCs) using strong-armed tactics to bully residents into paying
up the management fees.
One of the tactics employed is the clamping of water meters – a penalty
which some MCs have included in the in-house rules and regulations for not
paying management fees.
What many MCs do not take into account, however, is that Section 35 of the
Strata Title Act 1985 specifically states that condo residents have the
right to support, service and shelter, which includes access to water, and
that any attempt to clamp water meters is in violation of the Act.
CAHC is trying to get around this deadlock by getting the Selangor state
government to legislate a law forcing MCs to hand over the water meters to
Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas).
Syabas is willing to let condominium dwellers pay domestic rates, but they
must first control the meters, and they cannot take control of it presently
due to the ambiguity in the law on water meters governing joint-ownership
properties like condominiums.
Syabas has already submitted the proposal to the state government and it
would take some three months for the state government to implement, if it
agrees to such a suggestion.
Other tactics include lawyers’ letters with threats of lawsuits.
Khong himself has been slapped with several lawsuits amounting to RM5mil for
fighting on behalf of condominium residents.
But residents are not the only victims here. Bungah Raya Management
Corporation secretary Somasundaram Venkateswaran said from his experience,
MCs use water clamping to enforce payment of arrears by defaulters.
“Though this is certainly not a fair thing to do (access to drinking water
is a basic human right), it has been found to be a practical, cost-effective
and quick recovery method,” said Venkateswaran.
“Legal recovery procedures are expensive and time-consuming. MCs may have to
wait a long time to obtain judgment from our courts, all the more so with
our appellate courts system.
“In the meantime, core services including corridor and car park lighting and
lift operations have to be disrupted or even stopped altogether due to the
lack of collections from owners. This will obviously anger owners who are
good paymasters who may also stop payment until services are restored. It is
a ‘chicken and egg’ situation.”