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Woes related to high-rise living

05/08/2008 The Star By Geetha Krishnan and Tan Karr Wei

THE high-rise pressure-cooker lifestyle is causing temperatures to rise among residents of apartments and condominium units, resulting in constant confrontation and conflicts between them and their joint management committees (JMCs).

Feuds, veiled threats, aggressive actions and even run-ins with the law are common features of the high-rise dwelling culture.

The common grouses include the usual disputes over sinking funds, maintenance charges, insurance, house rules and parking bays.

Iskandar: The state government was aware of problematic JMBs.

The more serious cases involve accusations of cronyism and covert dealings have also been hurled.

Under the Building and Common Property (Management and Maintenance) Act 2007, a developer is required to form a joint management body (JMB) to oversee the management and operation of the common areas at its high-rise projects.

The developer is given 12 months from the date of vacant possession to set up a JMB before strata titles can be issued.

The committee should comprise two representatives from the developer and eight to 12 owners of apartment or condominium units.

The Building and Common Property (Management and Maintenance) Act 2007 is meant to protect buyers and complements the Strata Titles Act.

National House Buyers Association secretary-general Chang Kim Loong, however, feels that it is still a long process for strata titles.

Hasan Nawawi: It is hard for local authorities to concentrate on JMBs.

“The Building and Common Property (Management and Maintenance) Act 2007 is new. Hence, there are teething problems,” he said.

“The Federal Government, especially the Housing and Local Government Ministry, must be pro-active in educating both developers and buyers through means like proper guidelines, a hotline or even conducting brief courses,” Chang said.

“One reason there is feuding and uncertainty is because the act is there but the regulations are not in place. Another reason is with power lumbered over to buyers. Everyone seems to have a personal agenda and think the JMB is a gold mine,” he said.

“The residents associations and the Rukun Tetangga are powerless in raising and articulating issues because of legal restraints as the JMB, as a corporate body, can sue and be sued. Hence, although the residents associations can be consulted for checks-and-balances, they are hesitant to address the real issues,” Chang said.

The authority in this matter is the Commissioner of Buildings (CoB).

As a legal adviser, the CoB must determine the service charge of a property, ensure the building is insured, audit the building management fund, enforce house rules and advise on late payment interest for maintenance and service charges.

Adnan: We have to re-deploy employees to deal with JMB issues.

According to Chang, the Selangor Housing and Real Property Board (LPHS) previously performed the functions of the CoB but the Federal Government, through the Building and Common Property (Management and Maintenance) Act 2007, felt that local authorities should be entrusted with the job.

Chang feels that the board should continue to have control over the JMBs and delegate its tasks through sub-CoBs, which should comprise individuals familiar with housing and local government issues while having the necessary skills and qualifications to resolve disputes.

According to Selangor Housing, Building Management and Squatters Committee chairman Iskandar Abdul Samad, the state is aware of problematic JMCs and has plans to take over inefficient committees through local councils.

Iskandar said the housing board would serve as mediator when deemed necessary.

Getting to grips with high-rise living

RESIDENTS of apartments and condominium units want to be informed and educated about their rights, according to S. C. Lim, the adviser of the Pelangi Damansara Blocks G-K joint management committee (JMC).

Not too smooth: In some cases, problems have arisen between residents and the JMBs.

Residents association chairman Anthony Goh, meanwhile, said there were members with various types of expertise and this was a great help in the selection of personnel for the formation of the JMC.

Damansara Sutera JMC chairman Jeffrey Chan said residents should find common grounds when dealing with developers so issues could be raised and amicably settled.

However, for residents of the Palm Court Apartments in Brickfields, it has not been smooth sailing . There are frequent disputes between the tenants, owners and the JMC.


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