High-rise Owners In A Bind
 
 
PETALING JAYA: Owners of high-rise units are looking at a tough choice – should they support the proposed amendments to the Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act 1981, or not.
 
The amendments, if passed, would give apartment, condominium and high-rise commercial unit owners better protection by licensing and regulating the activities of property managers, the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents said.
 
On the other hand, a group which opposes the amendments fears that licensing and regulating property management companies would result in maintenance fees going up by between 30% and 40%.
 
And there is no quick end to the dilemma as the proposed amendments, brought up three years ago, have attracted strong, opposing views.
 
The draft of the amendments is now under the review of the Finance Ministry and it is understood that the minister will not proceed until the opposing parties are happy with the changes.
 
The board, which proposed the amendments to the ministry three years ago, said the amendments would enable it to regulate property managers through registration and licensing.
 
This, it claimed, would protect high-rise property owners because property managers who do not perform up to mark could be dealt with by having their licence revoked.
 
Board chairman Abdullah Talith Md Thani said the current situation, where property management companies are being set up by people who are not necessarily qualified, brought about poor property management.
 
“Property management, in its true definition, will include collection of money from tenants.
 
“So they must be protected from unscrupulous property managers,” he said, adding that the board could not take action against such property managers at the present time.
 
Institute of Surveyors Malaysia, whose members are also part of the board, believes the amendments would ensure that the profession would be at stake if they engaged in improper activities.
 
ISM's property consulting and valuation division chairman S. Sarkunan said one of the major problems of the industry now was the sinking fund.
 
“The fund is supposed to be used for major repairs of buildings. However, the fund is often not there when it is needed despite the owners having contributed to it. Millions of ringgit have disappeared,” he said.
 
He added that those who wanted to venture into this field must sit for a competency test set by the Board.
 
Those opposing the amendments said the immediate effect of the changes would be higher maintenance cost borne by unit owners.
 
They also argued that a monopoly by valuers would be created.
 
The organisations opposing the amendments are the Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association of Malaysia, Institution of Engineers, Malaysia, Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia, Malaysian Institute of Architects, Malaysian Association for Shopping and High-Rise Complex Management, Associated Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Malaysia, Malaysian Retailer-Chains Association, management corporations and residents associations.
 
The management corporation of an apartment complex in Kuala Lumpur said the amendments would allow licensed property managers to impose charges under a fee scale.
 
“They can charge as high as RM150 per hour for consultation,” Bunga Raya Management Corporation secretary S. Venkateswaran said.
 
The group argued that the amendments would create an “Ali Baba” situation where licensed property managers would farm out actual work to parties who were not regulated.
 
They have instead called for the Housing and Local Government Ministry to expedite the setting up of the Commissioner of Buildings (COB) who would settle dispute and problems concerning common property, including the payment of maintenance fees.
 
 
 
Source :The Star 27/11/2006 Close Window