HOW do you compel highrise owners to contribute their share of the maintenance fee, a colleague who lives in a condo asks.
The deterioration of services and facilities she used to enjoy since she bought the property is causing her sleepless nights.
She has learnt that the problems were brought about by the poor payment of maintenance fees.
The management committee of her condo is helpless against the bad paymasters. Slow rubbish collection, lifts that break down frequently, and water in the swimming pool turning milky green are driving her up the wall.
I said she would get used to the conditions over time. I know I did.
My condo's swimming pool was an outdoor fishpond until the conscience of the majority restored it back to its former glory.
The lifts are better looking now although they are still a long way from convincing me to take a ride to the first floor.
But I am thankful that the stairwells are well lit, and the corridors are clean. These days, I only pray that people will stop flinging garbage from their homes into the garbage chutes.
I used to wonder how the maintenance of highrises could be improved, too, but I have given up. The good living in highrises I read about in advertisements is but a fleeting dream. Malaysians are not born for highrise living -- not unless they are made to appreciate the term "common property" and understand the need to pay for the maintenance of common property and facilities for them to run in good condition.
I was hopeful things would change when the Strata Title Act 1985 was amended three years ago and the Building and Common Property (Maintenance and Management) Act 2007 gazetted.
With the creation of a Commissioner of Buildings (COB) to adjudicate problems related to non-payment of maintenance fees and charges, I thought the authorities would enforce the laws related to highrise living. I was wrong.
Very little has changed.
You only need to ask highrise dwellers about their nightmares. No, you don't even need to ask. Just look at the outward appearances of the older flats, apartments and condominiums, and you will see what I mean.
Weathered walls, unmanned security posts, and poor maintenance of the perimeter areas are some of the clues to the financial health of the highrises' coffers.
How do you recover debts from freeloaders against whom the residents' management committees are helpless?
How can the bad paymasters be made to contribute their share of the maintenance fees so that those who pay are not deprived of the facilities? Is the management of highrises in Klang Valley monitored by the COBs or do they merely exist as a requirement by law?
Managing highrises is tough and leaving residents to run it by themselves often lead to failure in a matter of years unless the management body has the means and ways to retrieve bad debts.
Otherwise, it won't be long before apathy rears its ugly head and everything that was once in good condition will go down the drain.
Perhaps my neighbour's suggestion is worth considering: monitor the management of highrises to protect both the property owners and the managers.
If standards are not met, then have the alternative of privatising the management of these residential highrises to a licensed professional property manager equipped with the logistics to manage profitably and provide satisfactory services.
Empower the COB to oversee and enforce the collection of maintenance fee, and raise the collection to the level of efficiency of the Income Tax or the Road Transport departments. If people can pay their income or road taxes without prompting, surely highrise owners can be encouraged to do the same.
In the city where highrise living is becoming a permanent feature, the authorities must take charge to improve the management of highrises so that they do not turn into concrete slums.