Safeguarding the strata dwellers

Homes up high should be managed by property managers who are regulated

In the spirit of ‘1 Malaysia’, Federal Government under Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak’s supposed to safeguard the interest of the rakyat first, above anything anything else. Especially if the subject matter is in conflict against the capitalists’ cartel. However , that is not always the case. Especially when the minister-in-charge ‘Flip-Flop’ped last minute.

Minister of Housing and Local Government Dato’ Seri Chor Chee Heung is in the process of introducing a new Bill in Parliament. Strata Management Bill (SMB) 2012 which would be known as Strata Management Act (SMA). This new act is supposed to rectify a lot of weakness in the Building and Common Property (Maintenance and Management) Act also known as Act 663,  introduced in 2007. The references of the SMA are Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents (VAEA) Act 1981 and Strata Titles Act (STA) 1985.

Currently, in the country there are 13,000 strata building housing schemes involving 1.367 million residential units. Effectively, that is home to 4.1 million persons. Majority people would prefer to live in landed properties. However, challenges such as economic, practicality and lack of space forced residential units to be built in multi-storey buildings. Especially in high density areas such as Klang Valley, Penang and Iskandar Malaysia.

At the moment, there is no qualification nor restriction of who can be classified as ‘Property Managers’. Anyone can form a company and offer themselves to manage strata residential buildings. They are not govern by the VAEA, because registered members of the respective professional bodies Royal Institute of Surveyors Malaysia and Malaysian Institute of Professional Property Managements are governed by Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents.

In fact, 58% of these buildings are being managed by property management companies (PMC) which are created and are subsidiary of the project property developers.

Currently, if these PMC are errants and even abscond the dwellers’ monies, they dwellers have no avenue for a recourse. This is because there is no such provision in the existing Act 663 to enforce only persons with the necessary qualifications are allowed to manage these properties. In the most recent case is 152 dwellers signed a petition against Trimax Property  Management Sdn. Bhd., which is managing properties such as Sutera Idaman in Gombak and Teratai Mewah and Genting Court in Setapak. Trimax MD Harjeet Singh S/O Pratap Singh claimed to be graduate and has the necessary experience from Australia.

In a letter signed by these 152 persons to the Minister dated 17 October 2012, they complained that Harjeet Singh never even completed his SPM and worked as a restaurant hand in Australia.

After much deliberation between the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and professional bodies such as RISM and MIPPM ever since Act 663 was introduced in 2007, SMB is supposed to include ‘registered property managers’ as a definition on who should be qualified to manage properties. This definition is in direct reference to the VAEA Act.

Professional property managers who are subjected to VAEA are required to have indemnity insurance, just like other professions which are governed by the respective professional bodies.

BMAM President Dato’ Teo Chiang Kok and Minister of Housing and Local Government Dato’ Seri Chor Chee Heung

The opposition against SMB is by Building Managers Association Malaysia (BMAM), which majority comprises of PMCs not members of professional bodies such as RISM and MIPPM. In fact, majority of the BMAM board are property developers. The President of BMAM is Dato’ Teo Chiang Kok of See Hoy Chan, the developer for Bandar Utama.

In the second reading of the SMB recently, the word ‘registered’ was omitted even though it was introduced in the first reading of the bill in the current Dewan Rakyat session. Why did this happen is a mystery. However, the bet is on the minister-in-charge pandered into the property developers’ cartel instead of looking into the strategic importance of protecting the rakyat’s interest.

This is dangerous as the professional bodies incepted within their own professional practice under the respective acts, are supposed to regulate the profession and the professionals’ conduct. The interest of the 4.1 million rakyat living in the 1.367 million residential units are at the expense for the effort to protect the business being generated for the BMAM members.

Prime Minister Najib has shown tremendous interests for Malaysians to have affordable homes. Agencies such as PR1MA and SPNB are tasked to deliver affordable homes quickly. However, it would be counter productive if existing homes are open to be exploited by unscrupulous business corporations or personalities, who are not qualified as professionals in the respective trade in the first place.

The minister-in-charge may instantly be speculated for protecting his cronies. This is not good especially as the 13GE is around the corner. Majority of these 4.1 million dwellers are voters in strategically important constituencies around Wilayah Persekutuan, Selangor, Penang and Johor.

Published in: on November 13, 2012 at 23:53  Comments (7)  

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Published in: on November 13, 2012 at 03:50  Comments (2)