Monday, June 1, 2009

More high-rise slums in KL if freeloaders have their way

AN article in this paper recently pointed out the difficulties faced by managers of high-rise condominiums and apartments when collecting maintenance fees. It may sound ridiculous that people living in highrises would actually refuse to pay maintenance fees and that some had actually threatened the property managers with bodily harm but that is the reality.

While some refuse to pay because they are dissatisfied with the running of the property or the transparency of the accounts, others are just bad paymasters, selfish parasites who prefer to feed off the charity of others.

Cursed are the high-rise properties if so much as a handful of their population are freeloaders because given enough time, others would follow suit.

Unless the management bodies are strong enough to act against them, the condition of the property would soon fall into disrepair due to lack of funds.

Following the amendment to the Strata Titles Act 1985 and the implementation of the Building and Common Property (Management and Maintenance) Act 2007, high-rise property owners were hopeful that issues with the management of such property would be solved.

The mandatory setting up of a Joint-Management Body (JMB) was seen as better able to protect the interests of both sides. However, this apparently has not materialised as can be seen at the two-day seminar for high-rise building management organised by City Hall recently.

As highlighted by disgruntled building managers at the seminar, the Commissioner of Buildings (COB) has to compel errant property owners to pay their maintenance fees and the arrears, especially if there are provisions in the Building and Common Property (Maintenance and Management) Act 2007.

In a city like Kuala Lumpur, there are many management bodies which have run into financial trouble because of poor fee collection. Signs of this can be seen in badly maintained lifts and unpainted exterior.

Some managers have even abandoned security patrols altogether because they cannot afford to employ security guards. As a result, some properties are beginning to look like city slums.

In the past, the Federal Territory Land Office was entrusted with overseeing the management of strata titled properties. The number of condominiums and apartment complexes which have become eyesores today speak volumes of how well the responsibility was carried out.

There is very little building managers can do to get errant property owners to pay maintenance fees or recover arrears if the COB's office is hesitant to enforce the law and to do so without fear or favour.

Management bodies usually comprise residents themselves and many have been threatened with bodily harm or have their property defaced for displaying the names and addresses of the bad paymasters on the notice board. Short of lodging police reports, many continue to suffer in silence, or have given up and moved to landed properties.

Mayor Datuk Ahmad Fuad Ismail, who is the designated COB for KL, should take a look into the current state of affairs affecting highrises before they become unmanageable.

Already Ahmad Fuad has acknowledged that there were 1,785 high-rise housing schemes out of a total of 4,552 that had yet to set up their respective JMB.

Even if all have set up their respective management bodies, what good will it do if enforcement to compel errant property owners to pay maintenance fees is lacking? Several years down the road, Kuala Lumpur may be full of high-rise slums because building managers do not have the funds to maintain them.

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