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Strong-armed tactics used to bully residents

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.”


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