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Title woes still a fact
09/01/2007 The Star

STRATA titles are important because they grant ownership to individual purchasers, who are not recognised as owners by the Land Office until the titles are issued. 

This loophole is worrisome, for should a developer ever go bankrupt, the property’s ownership could be transferred to a fresh developer’s company with a new set of requirements requiring purchasers to pay extra costs or even have the property taken away in default. 

Since the issue of ownership is not addressed specifically in any of the Acts, it would be a costly court battle for owners to prove otherwise. 

By right, the developer is supposed to apply for strata titles within six months of receiving certificates of fitness. 

Section 20(1) of the Strata Title Act states this while Section 20(1a) allows for an extension of a further three months. 

Failure to comply with this is covered by Section 22A of the Act, where the developer is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding RM5,000 and a further fine not exceeding RM1,000 for each day the offence continues. 

In Penang, the Auditor General pointed out that the Land Office only prosecuted 13 developers for failing to submit the applications, despite sending 144 reminders. (The Star, Oct 7). 

The reason for the lack of prosecution given by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Abdul Rashid Abdullah was that the Land Office only prepares the cases for prosecution to be undertaken by the State Legal advisor, but it was not mentioned how many cases the Land Office had prepared to be acted upon nor was it stated if any of the developers were fined for failing to comply with the Act. 

The Housing and Local Government Ministry will be tabling some amendments to the Act to address the concerns of ownership soon. 

The Condominium, Apartment and High-rise Committee (CAHC), however, asks if the amendments would truly address the issue because strata titles are supposed to be legal documents that spell out ownership. 

“While we applaud the amendments, there are some grey areas that need to be clarified,” said CAHC pro tem chairman Tengku Nazaruddin Zainuddin. 

“The question involves the delivery system, compliance by the developers and, of course, enforcement. 

“There seems to be no enforcement and developers are taking advantage of this. One can amend the Act yearly but if the delivery system, compliance and enforcement are absent, it does not change anything,” said Nazaruddin. 

CAHC currently has more than 40 condominium and apartment residents associations under its wing and has managed to solve several issues involving members. 

Currently, CAHC is working on problems faced by members ranging from harassment of vocal condominium owners to unexplained rate hikes by management corporations. 

Nazaruddin said the committee is working hard to fight for the rights of condominium dwellers using the law, following procedures and documenting the process. 

The efforts have yielded results, but Nazaruddin said the government should be the one taking responsibility for the problems caused by a lack of enforcement. 

The committee was formed under the All PJ Pro Action Committee (APPAC) banner and consists of members from the APPAC group. 

Residents who would like to get in touch with CAHC can call Tengku Nazaruddin at 012-284 9146, Chong Cheng Lai at 012-230 3639, Khong Chee Seng at 017-878 2881 and Koh Kheng Hoon at 03-7880 3084. 

Failed Solutions  

The Selangor Land and Mines Office tried to fix the problem of management corporations (MC) by coming up with a Pre MC solution where developers and owners form the MC prior to the issuance of strata titles in early 2005. 

Koh...‘There is little we can do.’

The initiative was meant to allow residsents to learn the finer points of running a condominium while preparing them to take over management when the strata titles are issued. 

Many developers do not support this and a government officer’s reply to the Kelana D’ Putera Residents Association when they tried to set up a Pre-MC was that the developers cannot be forced to agree. 

“There is little we can do because the developer refused to endorse it and we have a useless piece of paper,” said Kelana D’ Putera Residents Association president Francis Koh. 

Afer trying for the past seven years to get their strata titles, the Kelana D’ Putera RA was promised its titles at a meeting on Dec 9, 2005. 

Selangor housing and property board executive director Alinah Ahmad chaired the meeting, with Land and Mines Office strata and development policy management committee director Dr Azimuddin Bahari and officers from related departments present. 

The promise that strata titles would be issued to residents in June 2006 remains unfulfilled. 

Follow up attempts by the association went unanswered until recently, with a meeting scheduled for today.  

“We don’t know what else to do when the government is either ineffective or unable to process the strata titles for residents,” said Koh. 


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