Kevin Hans Jun Wei Samuel No Comments

A Landed Terrace House Or A Trip To Space?

As a kid, you may have stayed out late after dark just to stargaze into the sky. You may have also wondered what it would be like to go into space and explore different planets like an astronaut.  Well, the good news is now you can go into space and you don’t have to be an astronaut to do just that.

Space Perspective, a Florida-based private space firm, is selling the world’s first luxury spaceflight ticket for US$125,000 (RM530,250) per seat, with all 350 seats earmarked for the maiden journey in 2024 already sold out since ticket sales began last month. While all 350 spaceflight seats for 2024 have been sold out, tickets for 2025 are already on sale.

According to EdgeProp.my listings, for the price of one person’s ticket, one may buy a brand new double-storey terraced house in Seksyen 30, Shah Alam, with a land area spanning 20 ft by 65 ft and four bedrooms/four bathrooms.

The journey will take place in a capsule carried by a football stadium-sized space balloon that flies 100,000 feet above sea level, according to Space Perspective. Each capsule will carry up to eight people into the stratosphere for a six-hour journey.

Customers have already purchased entire capsules for group gatherings, and some even wish to hold their weddings there, according to the company. Other clients, meantime, are planning to celebrate a milestone birthday aboard a capsule or to take a corporate function “to new heights.”

Passengers in the capsule will be able to enjoy 360-degree views of the Earth while inside the capsule, which includes a bathroom, bar, and on-board Wi-Fi. How cool is that? 

 

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FLORIDA (July 21): Florida-based private space company Space Perspective is launching the world’s first luxury spaceflight ticket at US$125,000 (RM530,250) per seat, and all the first 350 seats which are reserved for the maiden flight scheduled in 2024 were sold out since the ticket sales were launched last month.

For the ticket price of one person, one could purchase a brand new double-storey terraced house in Seksyen 30, Shah Alam, with a land area measuring 20 ft by 65 ft and four bedrooms/four bathrooms, according to EdgeProp.my listings.

According to Space Perspective, the spaceflight will be conducted in a capsule carried by a football stadium-sized space balloon that floats 100,000ft above sea level. Each capsule will take up to eight guests into the stratosphere for a trip that will last six hours.

The firm also shared that there are customers who have already bought up entire capsules for group events and some even want to have their weddings there. Meanwhile, other customers plan to celebrate their milestone birthday aboard a capsule or take a corporate event “to new heights”.

While all 350 spaceflight seats in 2024 are sold out, tickets for 2025 are available for bookings now.

In the capsule, passengers will be able to feast their eyes on 360-degree views of Earth while inside the capsule, which comes complete with a bathroom, bar and on-board Wi-Fi.

Space Perspective is a private space company that’s planning for everything from zero-gravity flights on a normal plane to space flights that circle the moon. In June, the company’s test vehicle, Neptune One, was successfully launched from the Space Coast Spaceport, adjacent to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

 

Source: Edge Prop

Kevin Hans Jun Wei Samuel No Comments

Here Are Some Tips If You’re Facing Air-Conditioning Issues, Homeowner.

Leaking air conditioners (AC) are a typical problem in many Malaysian homes, and if left unaddressed, they may become a major pain to deal with in the future. If you don’t service and maintain your AC on a regular basis, the seemingly innocuous number of small droplets streaming from your AC could build into a massive puddle of water one day.

Here are a few more reasons of this vexing but readily remediable household issue:

Because as air conditioner cools the humid air in your room, condensation forms, causing some moisture to accumulate. The moisture collects in the unit and drains out through a short drainage pipe to an exit, which is normally located outside your home. If the drainage system becomes disconnected, clogged, or contaminated, the moisture-turned-water will have nowhere to go but back into your room.

An AC blower unit (the indoor unit) must be installed with a modest backward tilt towards the wall in order to function properly (for wall-mounted units). This ensures that the condensed water flows correctly into the drainage pipe.

The mounting bracket may slip with time, or worse, the item may have moved accidently during a servicing. They’re sometimes not even installed properly to begin with. Every one of these things could cause the condensed moisture in your unit to drip down onto the floor below.

The most prevalent problem for most AC units that are not serviced and maintained on a regular basis is dust buildup and mildew growth. If the air filter and drainage system are not cleaned correctly and frequently, dust and mildew will clog them.

Water from the accumulated moisture will seep out through other regions if this area becomes clogged, typically ending up on the floor or in your bed.

Warm air travels through the AC’s air filter and a sequence of cooled coils during cooling to clean dirty filters and coils. The air flow will be slowed if dust builds up on the filters and cooling coils. Ice can form around the filter or coils as the buildup grows. The ice will melt when the unit is turned off, causing water to trickle from your indoor unit.

It’s critical to ensure that the pipe carrying liquid refrigerant from the outside compressor to the coils is properly insulated. If the pipes aren’t properly sealed, or if there’s a refrigerant leak, a lot of condensation can accumulate on the pipes or AC unit, causing leaking.

As a result, water droplets will stick to the AC unit before eventually dripping down onto the floor. Regular maintenance can help avoid air leaks. AC units are vital in today’s world, therefore having a leaking AC can be extremely inconvenient to your daily schedule, especially if you’re frequently at home due to the epidemic.

 

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Leaking air conditioners (AC) are a common problem in many Malaysian households and if left unchecked, it can become a real headache to manage down the road.

That seemingly harmless amount of small droplets trickling from your AC might turn into a large puddle of water one day if you don’t service and maintain your AC regularly.

While poor servicing intervals is one of the main causes for this problem, there are a few other factors that lead to leaking ACs.

Here are some of the other causes of this annoying but easily-solved household problem.

Malfunctioning drainage

As the AC cools the humid air in your room, it also causes some moisture to form due to condensation.

The moisture that forms is collected and flows out through a small drainage pipe from the unit to an outlet, which is usually positioned outside your home.

However, if the drainage system gets disconnected, clogged or spoilt, that moisture-turned-water will have nowhere else to go but back into your room.

Tilted AC blower unit

For an AC blower unit (the indoor unit) to function properly, it must be mounted with a slight backward tilt towards the wall (for wall-mounted units). This is to ensure that the condensed water flows properly towards the drainage pipe.

Over time, the mounting bracket may shift or worse still, the unit might have accidentally moved during a service. Sometimes, they’re not even installed well to begin with.

All these may cause the condensed moisture to flow down from your unit and onto the floor below.

 

Dust buildup and mildew growth

This is the most common problem for most AC units that are not serviced and maintained regularly.

The presence of dust and mildew will clog the air filter and drainage system if it is not cleaned properly and frequently.

Clogging in this area will cause water from the condensed moisture to flow out through other areas, often times ending up on the floor or your bed.

 

Dirty filters and coils

During cooling, warm air flows through the AC’s air filter and through a series of cooled coils. However, dust buildup on the filters and cooling coils will slow down the air flow.

As the buildup increases, ice can form around the filter or coils. When the unit is switched off, the ice will melt and cause water to drip from your indoor unit.

 

Air leakage or poor insulation

It is important to make sure the pipe that carries the liquid refrigerant from the outside compressor to the coils is insulated well.

If those pipes are not properly sealed, or you have a refrigerant leak, then a lot of condensation can form on the pipes or AC unit, which then leads to leakage.

As a result, you will see water droplets clinging onto the AC unit, before it eventually drips down onto the floor. This air leakage can be prevented with regular servicing.

In this day and age, AC units are essential, so having a leaking AC can be incredibly disruptive to your daily routine especially during this pandemic when you’re constantly at home.

However, they are also relatively easy to fix, as long as you hire a specialist who can figure out the problem, and do the necessary repairs.

Regular servicing is important to keep your AC unit in good working condition, so you should not put it off for months (or years!).

 

Source: Free Malaysia Today (FMT)

Kevin Hans Jun Wei Samuel No Comments

Rent Renegotiation: 7 Smart Strategies

Many people are enduring financial troubles as a result of this highly uncertain period, with many losing their jobs, wages, and in some cases, their homes. But, the COVID-19 pandemic has produced a shift in the Malaysian property market, resulting in an increase in housing rental supply. As a result of the excess of vacant properties, tenants’ bargaining leverage has increased slightly.

If you’re considering of renegotiating your rental agreement with your landlord (especially if you’ve been a good tenant! ), here’s  a list of methods to assist you.

 

1) What’s Your Relationship With Your Landlord Like?

Everything we do is based on building relationships. The same is true here. To begin, evaluate your relationship with your landlord. If you already have a solid relationship with him or her, you’ve already won half the battle, and negotiations should be straightforward.

If, on the other hand, you are unable to negotiate a lower rent and must relocate, it is still critical to have an open and honest discussion regarding the lease in advance. This will not only allow you ample time to find new lodgings, but it will also give them time to find new renters (it’s always preferable to depart on good terms).

 

2) Research Similar Properties

Do your study on similar properties (a few times if necessary)! When renegotiating, it’s crucial to be aware of comparable postings. This will not only give you an indication of how much you could save on rent, but it will also establish the tone for the conversation.

Presenting your landlord with concrete rental pricing research allows them to determine and appraise actual rental rates for their property. The discussion is then based on actual facts and statistics rather than rumours.

 

3) Just Be Frank.

Some people find it difficult to have an open and honest conversation, especially when it comes to money. But, especially in hard times like now, it’s crucial to remember that empathy and compassion may go a long way.

Inform your landlord about how the pandemic and lockdown have impacted your financial circumstances. When requesting a lease renegotiation, be specific and know exactly what you want.

Identifying concrete and realistic reasons for the new lease can help your landlord make a more informed decision. Although being aware that they may counter or reject your offer is critical, being straightforward, honest, and reasonable can go a long way.

 

4) Ask &You’ll Be Surprised!

We Malaysians sometimes be a little shy or embarrassed about asking for help since we don’t want to bother others.

However, try not to let your sentiments of embarrassment and assumptions overshadow your financial difficulties at these times.

You may be pleasantly surprised by the landlord’s reaction; after all, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know; and, more significantly, you’ll never obtain what you want!

 

5) Negotiate

Picking up on the preceding keyword, the essential component that will make or kill your renegotiation talks is reasonableness.

Negotiation might take the shape of a monetary settlement or a trade-off. For example, you may negotiate for a cheaper rent by extending your lease by three or more months, or you may make upgrades or repairs to the property.

If your landlord refuses to lower your rent, you could try negotiating concessions such as fee waivers for your parking lot or building amenities. Remember that the goal of any negotiation is to arrive at an optimal and acceptable settlement for both parties.

 

6) Take It In Writing

Getting all requests, responses, and agreements in writing is maybe the most critical component of all.

By keeping a paper trail, they won’t be able to go back on any previous commitments and claim, “I never agreed to that!”

To ensure you have some type of formal verification of all your agreements, contact your landlord by email or even text.

 

7) Getting Your New Lease Done

Make sure all of these agreements are represented in your new Tenancy Agreement once you and your landlord have successfully renegotiated (TA).

It’s critical to document all of the renegotiated terms in a legally enforceable document that protects your position and rights as a tenant while also ensuring that your landlord keeps their part of the bargain.

This takes us to the critical requirement for a TA. There are currently no rules in Malaysia that protect both the tenant and the landlord.

Section 2 (b) of the Contracts Act 1950 (Rev. 1974) and Section 7 (2) of the Specific Relief Act 1950 are the only two statutes that protect you. These acts essentially state that:

Your TA isn’t just a piece of paper; it’s a legally binding contract, and landlords can’t take action against their tenants without a court order. So, as a renter, keep in mind that your TA is everything!

So, if you’ve been skimming through the terms and conditions of your TA before signing it (like you would on a website), you might want to give it a little more thought.

We’ve all known someone who entered into a tenancy based only on trust and a verbal arrangement, only to have things quickly spiral out of control! It’s vital to make sure you’re completely protected while also being the greatest tenant you can be.

 

To read more, please scroll further:

This highly uncertain time has left many people in financial difficulties, with many facing disruption to jobs, incomes and some even their homes.

However, the shift in the Malaysian property market brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an increase in housing rental supply. As a result, an oversupply of vacant homes has somewhat strengthened the bargaining power of tenants. 

If you are thinking about renegotiating your rental agreement with your landlord (especially if you’re a good tenant!), we have listed some useful strategies to help you reassess your rental arrangements. 

 

1. Understanding And Assessing Your Relationship With Your Landlord

Developing relationships is the basis of everything we do. The same applies here. To start, first assess your relationship with the landlord.

If you already have a good relationship with him/her overall, the battle is half won and negotiations should be relatively simple.

On the other hand, if you don’t get the lowered rent you need and have to relocate, it is still important to have an open and honest conversation about the lease in advance.

This will not only give you enough time to sort out new accommodations, but also gives them time to seek out new tenants (it’s always good to leave on civil terms).

 

2. Do Your Market Research

Do your research (a few times, if you have to) on similar properties! Being informed of comparable listings is important when renegotiating.

This will not only give you an idea of how much you might be able to lower your rent by, it also sets the tone for the discussion.

Presenting definite research on rental prices to your landlord allows them to ascertain and appraise realistic rates of their property. The conversation then no longer stems from rumours, but on solid facts and data.

 

3. Be Upfront And Honest 

An open and honest discussion can be hard for some, especially talks on finances. But it’s important to remember that empathy and understanding can go a long way, particularly in trying times such as this.

Reach out and explain to your landlord how the pandemic and lockdown has affected your financial situation. Be clear and know exactly what you want when you ask for a lease renegotiation.

Figuring out concrete and practical reasons of the new lease will give your landlord a clearer picture in making a decision.

Although it is crucial to be aware that they may counter or reject the offer, being upfront, honest and reasonable can go a long way.

 

4. If You Don’t Ask, You’ll Never Know!

As Malaysians, we can get a little malu-malu (shy or embarrassed) about asking for help on the notion that we’re inconveniencing people.

At times like these, however, try not to let your feelings of embarrassment and your assumptions overtake your financial burdens.

You might just be pleasantly surprised by the response from landlord – besides if you don’t ask, you’ll never know; and more importantly, you’ll never get what you’re looking for!

 

5. Negotiate For A Win-Win

Picking up on the previous keyword ‘reasonable’, is the basic factor that would make or break your renegotiation talks.

Negotiation can take the form of monetary compensation, or even a trade-off. For example, asking for a lower rent by offering an additional 3 or more months to your lease, or making improvements/repairs to the property. 

However, if your landlord does not agree on rent reduction, you could even try negotiating for concessions – waiving of fees for your carpark lot or building amenities.

No matter your discussion, remember that the goal of negotiations is to reach an ideal and amicable solution for both sides.

 

6. Everything In Black And White

Perhaps the most important factor of all, is to make sure you get all requests, answers and agreements down in writing.

Creating a paper trail ensures that they can’t backtrack on any prior agreements and say, “I never agreed to that!”

Contact your landlord via email or even text to ensure you have some form of documented verification of all your agreements.

 

7. Finalising Your New Lease

Once you and your landlord have successfully renegotiated, make sure all these agreements are reflected in your new Tenancy Agreement (TA). 

It is crucial to capture all the renegotiated terms in a legally binding document, which not only safeguards your position and rights as a tenant, but also ensures that your landlord upholds their end of their agreement. 

This final point brings us to the crucial need for a TA. Currently, Malaysia does not have any specific laws that protect both the tenant and the landlord.

There are only 2 Acts that protect you – Section 2 (b) of the Contracts Act 1950 (Rev. 1974) and Section 7 (2) of the Specific Relief Act 1950. In essence, these acts stipulate that:

  1. Your TA isn’t merely a formality, but a legitimate binding contract, and…
  2. Landlords are not allowed to take any action against their tenant without a court order. So, remember, as a tenant, your TA is everything!

So if you have been merely glancing over the terms and conditions of your TA before signing it, (like you would on websites) you might want to give it a tad more of your attention and consideration. 

We’ve all known someone who has entered into a tenancy based on trust and a mere verbal agreement, to only see the situation go south, fast! Best to make sure you’re fully protected, while at the same time, being the best tenant you could be. 

 

Source: Property Guru

Kevin Hans Jun Wei Samuel No Comments

Is It Still The Case That Borrowers Are On The Losing End Of Loan Agreements?

Borrowers who do not fully understand the terms and conditions (T&C) mentioned in house loans or financing contracts have been on the losing end for years. Even if they do comprehend them, they are well aware that they lack bargaining power. They must accept those terms or their loan applications will be denied.

The National House Buyers Association (HBA) was pleased when Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) spoke up about their worries over mortgage agreements that are excessively biassed towards banking institutions.

In its 2018 Financial Stability and Payment Systems report, the central bank urged that banking institutions amend these discriminatory terms and conditions and increase clarity by adopting plain language for both new and existing housing loans and financing contracts by the end of 2019.

However, has the order, which was published more than two years ago, made a difference?

 

A Lawyer or the Bank?

Borrowers typically pay the legal fees associated with home loans. Loan lawyers, on the other hand, are compelled to act in the best interests of banks, not borrowers. Borrowers are given little or no time to review the actual loan agreements before signing. They must either accept or reject all of the loans that have been offered to them. Many ordinary housing loans include a slew of clauses that are blatantly unfair to borrowers, which they are not authorised to protest.

Half of the borrowers will simply sign after examining the fundamental data such as loan amounts and interest rates, as directed by the legal professionals, given book-thick documents plus several more subsidiary deeds. The other half may study the lines and try to clarify the numerous unjust and imbalanced terms they find with the lawyers, only to be told that the terms cannot be changed – take it or leave it.

 

Differences In Bargaining Power

In CIMB Bank Bhd v Anthony Lawrence Bourke & anor (2019) 2 CLJ 1, the Federal Court held that banks cannot avoid liability for their mistakes by relying on disclaimer clauses in loan agreements. This was a huge relief for homebuyers.

Clauses that completely limit a customer’s ability to enforce a contract through legal action are unlawful under the Contract Act of 1950.

Contracts including clauses that completely remove liability are “patently unfair” and unjust to bank clients, and thus require the application of public policy considerations as well as judicial intervention.

The case has brought to light the banks’ one-sided bargaining leverage with their clients. The bank’s attempt to hide behind the provisions is unethical. In fact, it is a violation of contract freedom.

Sadly, most homebuyers will lack the financial means to prosecute their lenders. As a result, BNM’s effort to remedy these unjust elements in loan agreements has been widely praised.

 

Changes To Apply Solely To Loans Of Less Than RM500,000?

To address BNM’s concerns, the Association of Banks in Malaysia and the Association of Islamic Banks have announced that they are examining all standardised home loan agreement templates that they have authorised, but that they will be limited to principal amounts of RM500,000 or less.

However, haven’t housing prices risen significantly in the ten years after the pattern was initially implemented?

In this context, HBA requests that all residential housing loans (including serviced apartments, etc.) defined as residential dwellings under the Housing Development Act be covered by the new judgement released by BNM, regardless of loan amounts.

HBA is hoping that BNM would conduct a thorough examination of loan agreements in order to identify any conditions that are imbalanced or unjust to borrowers, and that these elements will be eliminated from “standard” housing loans.

 

A Secret To Apportionment Of Payment To Interest And Principal?

The allocation of monthly instalments toward the settlement of principal and interest is another significant unfairness to borrowers, as it is not specified anywhere in conventional loan agreements or templates.

To give you an example, we had a customer who took up a 20-year mortgage about six years ago. The complainant assumed that after paying his monthly instalments on his loan for five years, the principle amount owed should only be roughly 75% of the original amount.

Unfortunately, as the complainant discovered firsthand, the outstanding principle amount was closer to 83.5 percent. Banks, without a doubt, utilise Excel Mortgage templates universally, but laypeople believe otherwise based on their rudimentary arithmetic calculations.

As a result, there needs to be more clarity in how monthly interest and principal repayments are allocated, and this must be specified in loan agreements. BNM might be able to fix the manner of charging interest.

 

BNM To Balance Things Out

Instead of focusing solely on earnings and establishing balance sheets to appease their shareholders, the HBA urges banks to continue to consider their customers’ hardships and protect their borrowers’ interests.

HBA further urges BNM to continue closely monitoring, supervising, and enforcing Malaysian banks to ensure that they do not exploit their borrowers. Borrowers vs banks is a “David versus Goliath” conflict, and BNM’s early involvement is required to balance the scales in the financial field.

 

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For too long, loan borrowers have been at the losing end as many do not fully understand the terms and conditions (T&C) stated in housing loans or financing contracts. Even if they do understand them, they know all too well the bargaining power is not in their hands. They have to accept those terms or risk having their loan applications rejected.

Thus, when Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) stepped up and voiced their concerns over mortgage agreements which are disproportionately skewed towards banking institutions, the National House Buyers Association (HBA) welcomed the announcement.

The central bank, in its 2018 Financial Stability and Payment Systems report, demanded banking institutions to revise these unfair T&C and improve clarity through the use of plain language, for both new and existing housing loans and financing contracts, by end 2019.

So, has the directive, issued more than two years ago, improved the situation?

 

Lawyer for the borrower or the bank?

It is a standard practice that borrowers pay for the legal fees of housing loans. Ironically though, loan lawyers are obligated to act in the best interest of banks and not borrowers.

In addition, a barrage of terms that are grossly unfair to borrowers are included in standard housing loans, which they are not allowed to dispute. They must either accept or reject the loans offered in totality.

While borrowers may have time to shop for different banks and compare various letters of offer before deciding, borrowers are given little or no time to vet through the official loan agreements before signing.  This is because after borrowers have accepted the letters of offer, they will be required to go to the loan lawyers’ offices to execute the loan agreements and other security documents.

Given book-thick documents plus multiple other subsidiary deeds, half the borrowers will just sign after merely checking the basic details such as the loan amounts and interest rates, as instructed by the legal officers. The other half may scan the lines and attempt to clarify with the lawyers the many unfair and lopsided terms they find, only to be told that the terms cannot be varied – take it or leave it.

 

Unequal bargaining power

The recent Federal Court ruling in CIMB Bank Bhd v Anthony Lawrence Bourke & anor (2019) 2 CLJ 1 stated that banks cannot escape liability for their mistakes by relying on disclaimer clauses in the loan agreements. This came as a big relief to house buyers.

The Federal Court has held, inter-alia, as follows:

● Clauses which absolutely restrict the rights of customers to enforce a contract via legal proceedings are void pursuant to the Contract Act, 1950.

● Contracts with clauses to absolutely exclude liability are “patently unfair” and unjust to bank customers, and merit the application of principles of public policy as well as interference by the Courts.

The case has spotlighted the one-sided bargaining powers between the banks and their customers. It is unconscionable on the part of the bank to seek refuge behind the clauses. In fact, it is an abuse of the freedom of contract.

Unfortunately, most house buyers will not have the resources to sue their bankers. As such BNM’s attempt to address these unfair clauses in loan agreements was a much lauded move.

 

Changes to apply only to loans of RM500,000 and below?

To address the concerns raised by BNM, HBA notes that the Association of Banks in Malaysia and Association of Islamic Banks have stated they were reviewing all standardised housing loan agreement templates which they had approved, but they would be limited to the principal sum of RM500,000 or less.

However, hasn’t the price of houses increased substantially over the past 10 years since the template was first initiated?

In this regard, HBA calls for all residential housing loans (including serviced apartments, etc, that are classified as residential dwellings under the Housing Development Act), regardless of the loan amounts, to be covered under this new ruling as announced by BNM.

HBA hopes that BNM will take a comprehensive review of the loan agreements to identify all clauses that are lopsided and grossly unfair to borrowers and ensure these clauses are removed from the “standard’ housing loans.

 

Apportionment of payment to interest and principal shrouded in secrecy?

Another grave injustice to borrowers is the allocation of monthly instalments towards the settlement of principal and interest as this is not disclosed anywhere in standard loan agreements or templates.

To illustrate, we had a complainant who took a 20-year housing loan about six years ago. After diligently paying his monthly instalments towards his loan for five years, the complainant assumed the principal amount outstanding should only be about 75% of the original amount.

Unfortunately, as the complainant personally experienced, the principal amount outstanding turned out to be closer to 83.5%. No doubt, the use of Excel Mortgage template is practised universally by banks, but lay people think otherwise with their simple arithmetic calculations.

Hence, there needs to be a greater transparency on how the allocation of monthly repayments for interest and principal is done and this must be disclosed in the loan agreements. Perhaps, BNM can fix the method of charging interest?

 

BNM to balance the scale

HBA calls for banks to continue to take cognisance of their customers’ hardship and protect the interest of their borrowers instead of only focusing on profits and creating balance sheets to appease their shareholders.

HBA also calls on BNM to continue the close monitoring, supervision and policing of banks in Malaysia to ensure they do not take advantage of their borrowers. The battle of borrowers versus banks is a battle of “David versus Goliath”, and the timely intervention of BNM is needed to balance the scales in the banking arena.

 

TIPS FOR BORROWERS

On the sideline, HBA’s recommendations to borrowers are as follows:

● Choose flexi-loans, where you can “re-use” your repayments;

● You are encouraged to “pay more” as and when you have extras (like bonuses), to enable you to shorten the loan tenure;

● From the onset, ask banks to allow you to start paying your monthly instalments rather than just service progressive releases; and

● Avoid “lock-in periods” where banks can impose penalties for early redemptions.

 

Source: Edge Prop

Kevin Hans Jun Wei Samuel No Comments

Here are some tips to keep your home clean and tidy, Homeowner.

House cleaning is a chore that most working adults dread. It could be difficult for people who don’t have a cleaner that frequently comes in to preserve the cleanliness of their home after a part time servant or weekly maid cleaning service.

If you already have a job and children and nobody who comes in to clean often, here are six simple tasks which you can adapt for a longer period of time to keep your home clean.

 

1) Do Your Own Dishes

Do not forget to do the dishes right after a meal if you cook and eat your meals in the house every day. Minimize the use of dishes so that you can clean less.

If you leave the plates unwashed overnight or worse for days to come, a house will feel dirty and may smell bad.

Dirty food invites unwanted guests – imagine a flourish of disgusting cockroaches in the sink.

Make sure that you keep the sinking clean and discard any food bits caught in the sink strainer after washing the last item. The fact that food bits lie around certainly attracts more undesired criteria.

 

2) Vacuuming

Regardless of how meticulous you are with the broom, a vacuum is much more effective at sucking up dust, dirt, and pet hair than sweeping.

Concentrate on areas of your home that attract the most foot traffic during the day, such as the living room, dining room, and kitchen.

Most commercial vacuum cleaners can be used on both hard and soft surfaces. You just used vacuum areas that you believe are the most cleaned.

Consider leaving the rest of the house cleaning to days when you have more than 10 minutes on your hands.

 

3) Give Surfaces A Good Wipe Down

Dust is most evident on large flat surfaces like tables and countertops. So, to keep these surfaces clean, consider using a microfibre cloth or a feather duster.

This simple task will only take a few minutes of your time, but it will make a significant difference in the overall cleanliness of your home.

Dust accumulates in your eyes, irritates your nose, and makes your lovely furniture and cabinets seem much less appealing than they really are. Wipe off the noticeable areas like the dining table, kitchen counter, and coffee table. It doesn’t take a lot of time.

 

4) The Toilet

Your home’s most important area should be kept as clean as possible. So, every day, wipe down wet countertops, and every other day, clean the toilet briefly.

It is not necessary to spend several hours cleaning the entire bathroom. You should clean each fitting every couple of days instead.

On Tuesday, for example, you could clean your sink, and on Thursday, you could clean your toilet bowl. You’ll spend less time cleaning and having the same results if you rotate these tasks.

 

5) Don’t Forget The Furniture

Accidental spills can be prevented with furniture sprays and carpet sealants. Instead of being easily absorbed into the fabric, liquid would stay on the fabric’s surface.

Any of these items will also help to keep colored fabrics from fading too quickly. And many too often repel mold, mildew, and bacteria.

Once a year, after a comprehensive upholstery and carpet cleaning, apply the necessary sealer.

 

6) Do Things Step-By-Step, Every Night

Maintain a tidy home with little effort. Clear away any empty glasses, lost mail/bills, bits of paper, magazines, envelopes, pencils, or other foreign items every night before going to bed.

Put these things in their proper containers or cabinets, or throw out the ones you don’t need.

Put them in a corner or a separate room if you’re in a hurry. This is also a useful trick, but don’t make it a routine!

 

To read more, please scroll further:

Most working adults find house cleaning tasks rather daunting. Maintaining the cleanliness of the home after the visit from a part time maid or weekly maid cleaning services might sound difficult for those who don’t have a cleaner that comes in frequently.

If you’re already juggling work and kids, and don’t have someone who comes in frequently to clean, here are six easy tasks that you can adapt to keep your house clean for a longer period of time.

 

1. Do the dishes every day

If you cook and eat your meals at home every day, don’t forget to do the dishes right after a meal. Minimise the use of dishes so you’ll have less to clean.

A house will feel dirty and might smell bad if the dishes are left unwashed overnight or worse yet, for days on end.

Dirty dishes will invite unwanted guests – imagine a flurry of disgusting cockroaches making themselves at home in the sink.

Make sure you remember to scrub the sink clean after washing the last item and discard any food bits caught in the sink’s strainer. Leaving food bits lying around will certainly attract more unwanted critters.

 

2. Vacuum the floors

A vacuum is certainly more efficient at sucking up dust, dirt and pet fur than sweeping, no matter how thorough you are with the broom.

Focus on areas in your home such as the living room, dining room and kitchen since these areas received the most foot traffic throughout the day.

Most commercial vacuums work on hard surfaces as well as carpet. Only vacuum areas you’ve just used, that you think needs the most cleaning.

Leave other areas for days when you have more time than 10 minutes on your hands to spare for house cleaning.

 

3. Wipe down visible surfaces

Big flat surfaces like tables and countertops are where dust is most noticeable. So, try out a few dusting options such as a microfibre cloth or a feather duster to ensure these surfaces stay clean.

This easy task will take you just a few minutes and yet it will make a huge difference to the overall cleanliness of your home.

Accumulated dust gets into your eyes, irritates your nose and will make your beautiful furniture and cabinets look considerably less attractive than it actually really is.

Spend some time wiping down the obvious visible areas such as the dining table, kitchen countertop and coffee table. It doesn’t take long!

 

4. Don’t forget the bathroom

The most important room in your house needs to be kept as clean as possible. So, wipe down wet countertops every day and scrub the toilet briefly every other day.

There is little need to spend hours cleaning the entire bathroom. Rather you want to clean each fitting every couple of days.

For example, on Tuesday you could give your sink a wipe down and on Thursday you can do the same for your toilet bowl. By rotating these tasks, you’ll spend considerably less time cleaning yet achieving the same results.

 

5. Protect the furniture

Furniture sprays and carpet sealants will protect against accidental spills. Instead of liquid being absorbed quickly into the fabric, it will remain on the surface of the fabric instead.

Some of these products can also protect coloured fabrics from fading fast. And many too also repel mold, mildew, and bacteria.

Apply the appropriate sealer once a year after a major cleaning of upholstery and thorough carpet cleaning.

6. Clear away the little things every night

Keep the home looking neat with minimal effort. Before retiring to bed every night, clear away empty glasses, misplaced mail/bills, pieces of paper, magazines, envelopes, pencils, or other foreign objects.

Store away these items in their respective containers or cabinets, or discard those you no longer need.

If you’re in a rush, chuck them into a corner, or a dedicated room. This is a convenient trick as well but don’t make it a habit!

Source: Free Malaysia Today

Kevin Hans Jun Wei Samuel No Comments

Subterranean Project May Be The Next Big Thing

In metropolitan areas around the world, land scarcity has always been an inhibiting factor, and Malaysia is no different. The growing demand for housing takes another toll on land as a scarce resource while the population booms in cities. Creative new approaches are needed to optimise land use, and the subterranean zone is now an equally viable area for development with the advancement of construction technology.

For now, subterranean projects are mainly reserved for public infrastructure, also known as stratum developments. This is beneficial as it frees up the surface while enhancing connectivity for other projects. As users are not subjected to heat, rain or fluctuating temperatures, the sheltered atmosphere below offers additional comfort. Commercial and hospitality elements make up a smaller proportion of underground schemes, and residential buildings are much rarer.

The use of space is very much determined by the degree of depth whenever the stratum is considered. The Beijing Guideline recommended a depth of 10 m or less for comparison purposes as appropriate for the construction of pedestrian walkways, commercial lots, parking lots, municipal pipelines, utility tunnels, subway lines and transport hubs. Increasing depth limits the viability of human activities, and spaces are largely reserved for urban utilities, storage or underground vehicle roads at a depth of 30m to 50m.

As a whole, Malaysia still has a wealth of undeveloped land and this relieves the burden on us to venture underground like other countries. However, land shortage is already faced by major cities such as Kuala Lumpur, and the path forward for stratum growth or transactions can be made simpler if legal ambiguities are reduced.

The land above and below needs to be planned together for the future. The subterranean shallow zone is very much integrated with the surface above it, although, due to lack of access, the deep underground is typically separated. If one is to construct a stratum project after the surface project is completed, complications can develop. It is easy to demolish poorly constructed strata projects, but not so for stratum projects, as this can jeopardise the protection of surface residents. Another sticky matter is statutory ownership of the stratum.

In Malaysia, in the case of agricultural property, the ownership depth must be less than six metres. With regard to different sections of such underground property, different depths can be defined. By default, the government retains control of the natural resources of the land below. It is possible to build ownership through voluntary transactions, agreements or compulsory purchases. In Japan, if the public project being undertaken is 40 m underground, landowners don’t need to be paid compensation. At such depth, the rights of the state or developer over the resident are prioritised.

 

To read more, please scroll further:

Land scarcity has always been an inhibiting factor in metropolises across the world, and Malaysia is no different. As population booms in cities, the increasing demand in housing takes a further toll on land as a finite resource. Creative new ways are required to maximise land usage, and now with the advancement in construction technology, the subterranean zone is an equally viable area for development.

Land ownership is no longer confined to two dimensions, but three, namely width, height and now depth. Building below ground is no longer a novel technique as can be seen in countries like China, Japan and Finland, who are leading the best practices. Singapore’s expansion through land reclamation has also seen a shift towards underground land for more space.

For now, subterranean developments, also known as stratum developments, are mostly reserved for public infrastructures. This is advantageous as it frees up the surface for other projects while improving connectivity. The sheltered environment below provides further comfort as users are not exposed to sun, rain or fluctuating temperatures. Commercial and hospitality elements make up a lesser degree of subterranean projects, and even rarer are residential buildings.

Where stratum is considered, the utilisation of space is very much determined by the degree of depth. For reference purposes, Beijing’s guideline suggested a depth of 10m or lower as ideal for the construction of pedestrian walkways, commercial lots, parking lots, municipal pipelines, utility tunnels, subway lines and transport hubs. Increasing depth reduces the feasibility of human activities, and spaces at a depth of 30m to 50m onwards are largely reserved for urban infrastructure, storage or underground automobile roads.

Legal matters 

Malaysia as a whole still possesses a wealth of undeveloped land and this alleviates the pressure for us to venture underground like other nations. However, major cities like Kuala Lumpur are already experiencing land scarcity, and the way forward for stratum development or transactions can be made easier if legal ambiguities are minimised.

Towards the future, the land above and below needs to be planned together. The shallow subterranean zone is very much integrated to the surface above it, while the deep underground is usually segregated due to lack of access. Complications may develop if one is to build a stratum project after the completion of the surface project.

Poorly planned strata projects can be easily demolished, but not so for stratum projects as this may jeopardise the safety of surfacedwelling residents. Legal ownership of the stratum is another sticky matter. Take for example a situation where an owner wishes to maintain ownership of the surface land while transferring ownership of the land below to a buyer. Kuala Lumpur district valuer Khalid Abdul Mutalib said the buyer cannot establish his ownership on the purchased subterranean land as stratum titles do not exist in Malaysia. In short, an individual can only own the bottom if they also own the top.

 

Ownership according to depth

Guidelines established by federal authorities state the various types of land and the depth to which owners may claim ownership. Under Jabatan Ketua Pengarah Tanah dan Galian (JKPTG) Circulation No1/2008, the depth of ownership shall not be less than six metres in the case of agricultural land, and in the case of building and industrial category, not less than 10m and 15m.

Note that these guidelines apply only to new land from the state and not for existing alienated land. Also, the state authorities can choose to either follow or not to follow the guidelines provided by federal authorities. Under Section 92B of the national land code, the state authority may specify the depth up to which the underground land directly below the alienated land may be used, and different depths may be specified in respect of different parts of such underground land.

On a less ambiguous note, the government by default holds ownership over the natural resources of the land below, even if the surface land is privately owned. Natural resources in this context may constitute the sand, rock, precious metal, oil, gas and other resources not mentioned. Another subject that requires mention is acquisition. The government can acquire the stratum under a private owned land through Land Acquisition Act Section 3 (1).

A scenario may involve the initiation of an underground mass rapid transit (MRT) project going under the land of an owner. Before commencement of said project, the owner is called for inquiry at the land office where the intention is being stated. During this stage, the depth of the underground project is communicated and discussions are made regarding the owner’s ability to exercise the use of his land.

Once all matters have been agreed upon, then a reasonable sum of compensation is issued to the owner. In Japan, landowners do not need to be paid a compensation if the public project being implemented is 40m underground. At such depth, the rights of the government or developer is prioritised over the resident. Finnish law is somewhat similar to Malaysia, where the owner of the property has control over the underground part, though the vertical extent of ownership is not specifically defined in the legislation.

Ownership over the lower boundary has been limited to the depth where it can be technically utilised. In practise, this means the depth of six metres from the lowest point of the building lot, which allows the owner to construct an underground cellar, for example. Anyone constructing facilities underground must obtain agreement on the right to use the underground construction site. Ownership can be established through voluntary transactions, agreements or compulsory purchases based on legislation.

 

Source: Star Property

Kevin Hans Jun Wei Samuel No Comments

Designing Residences For Independent Senior Living? Here’s What You Should Consider.

Here are some tips when looking into developing or designing residences for independent retirees.

 

Number 1: Safety

So first things first, safety. When designing a place to stay for the elderly, it is of utmost importance that safety is on the top of the priority list. Steps and slopes in the whole development should have contrasting colours to prevent mishaps, and walkways need to be stumble-proof.

This is because most elderly people are more prone to falls, and they can’t break their falls like how younger people do. To add on to that, avoid confusing layouts or split levels that would require steps. This will make it difficult for the elderly person to distinguish the steps.

Next, you need to use anti-slip flooring material, especially for bathrooms and toilets so they don’t accidentally slip and fall in the bathroom or toilet. While you’re at it, consider installing grab bars and emergency call buttons in the bathrooms as this can be a lifesaver at crucial times.

If you’re deciding on the furniture, the furniture needs to have rounded edges and corners to prevent injuries from knocks. They also have to be structurally stable. Any wobbly table or chair would be disastrous. And as for the kitchen, safety fittings such as smoke detectors and fire alarms should be installed, while stoves with auto shut-off features are preferable.

 

Number 2: Ease of Use & Accessibility

When designing the layout, consider the travel distance between the spaces in order to minimize the number of walks required in a building. Remember to use practical flooring materials that are simple and friendly to maintain, such as tiles rather than carpets, for wheelchair movements.

When deciding on the kind of fixtures to use, please choose fixtures that do not require strength and agility to function, e.g. swing panel doors and casement windows for less obstruction, and simpler access and service, may be replaced with sliding doors and windows. Also, take note that switches and sockets must not be too high or too low, so that both regular and wheelchair-bound people can comfortably access them. Moreover, there should be wheelchair-accessible cabinets, cooking and preparation areas in the kitchen.

For bathrooms, things like a built-in shower bench and height-adjustable shower handles are a bonus. It would be necessary to install enough bright lighting-4000 Kelvin to 6000 Kelvin color temperature to provide more clarity for those with poor eyesight. Larger prints can contain signs and notes so they can identify and navigate themselves with ease.

 

Number 3: Future-Proof The House

Moving on, if you are designing the home to be sustainable, then there are steps in the design, make sure that there are also ramps. Even if all tenants are mobile at the beginning, it is a good idea to provide ramps to plan for eventualities from day one, as it is messy, noisy and expensive to create ramps after the building is completed.

Plan ahead for more assistance that might be required in the future, such as comfortable bathrooms or wheelchair access for easier assistance. To accommodate wheelchairs, hospital beds and medical equipment that may be required in the future, doorways and corridors should be constructed wider.

 

Number 4: Comfortability & Mental Health

Lastly, keep in mind that a peaceful landscape is important for fostering better mental health. It is important to have enough sitting places and ample shade areas and trees. Do ensure that the home has ample natural light and ventilation. In order to relieve tension or depression, it is best to use vibrant and calming colour tones for the interior.

The height of the furniture should be acceptable for the elderly, typically lower than the average height. Avoid using furniture that is too fragile and is unable to provide the support required.

 

To read more, please scroll further:

1. Safety first

• Steps and slopes in the whole development should have contrasting colours to prevent mishaps, and walkways need to be stumble-proof.

• Avoid confusing layouts or split levels that would require steps.

• Use anti-slip flooring material, especially for bathrooms and toilets.

• Furniture needs to have rounded edges and corners to prevent injuries from knocks. They also have to be structurally stable.

• For kitchen, safety fittings such as smoke detectors and fire alarms should be installed, while stoves with auto shut-off features are preferable.

• Consider installing grab bars and emergency call buttons in the bathrooms.

 

2. Easy usage and accessibility

• Take travel distance between spaces into consideration when designing the layout to reduce the amount of walking required in a house.

• Select practical flooring materials that are easy to maintain and friendly to wheelchair movements, such as tiles instead of carpets.

• Choose fixtures that do not require strength and dexterity to operate, e.g. swing panel doors and casement windows could be replaced with sliding doors and windows for less obstruction, and easier access and operation.

• Switches and sockets must not be too high or too low, so that they can be easily reached by both normal and wheelchair-bound persons.

• Cabinets, cooking and prep areas in the kitchen should be wheelchair-accessible.

• Items such as a built-in shower bench and height-adjustable shower handles are a plus for bathrooms.

• Install ample bright lightings – 4000 Kelvin to 6000 Kelvin colour temperature would be suitable in providing more visibility for those with weak eyesight.

• Signs and notices should be in large prints.

 

3. Addressing future needs

• If there are steps in the design, ensure there are ramps as well. Even if all residents are mobile at the beginning, it is a good idea to have ramps from day one to prepare for eventualities, as building ramps after the building is completed is messy, disruptive and costly.

• Plan ahead for more assistance that might be needed in the future, such as spacious bathrooms for easier assistance or wheelchair access.

• Doorways and corridors should be built wider to accommodate wheelchairs, hospital beds and medical equipment that might be required in the future.

 

4. Comfortability and mental health

• To promote better mental health, a tranquil landscape is important. Enough sitting places and sufficient shady areas and trees need to be provided.

• Ensure there is enough natural light and ventilation in the house.

• It is advisable to use bright and soothing colour tones for the interiors to reduce stress or depression.

• Furniture height should be suitable for the elderly, which is usually lower than normal height.

• Avoid using furniture that is too soft and cannot provide the needed support.

• Ideally, use elevated built-in furniture for easier cleaning.

 

Source: Edge Prop

Kevin Hans Jun Wei Samuel No Comments

If This Is Your First Time Buying A Strata Property, Read This.

To live in a strata development implies to live in a society with several different laws. And for many Malaysians, they still don’t know what strata really means. So, if you’re currently looking for a condominium or an apartment, you’ve probably come across a wide-range of fancy words or jargons. In this article, you will read about the top 10 frequently asked questions about strata properties.

 

What Is A Strata Property?

A strata property is defined as a design or scheme in which the building or the land is divided into different parcels. According to SMA 2013, a strata title enables land purchasers to own or co-own part of a high-rise property. The residential strata include high rises in gated and guarded (G&G) neighbourhoods, such as flats, condominiums, city homes and landings. And the word “strata” was first legally adopted in 1985 as a result of urbanisation in major Malaysian cities.

In the meantime, a condominium unit within a condominium block is an example of a ‘parcel.’ These parcels are governed by a management body and common property.

 

Strata Title Vs Individual Title

Strata titles are typically given for properties in a multi-story building where the property is owned by developers. In the sense of a development which shares common facilities, Strata titles are subdivided into individual titles issued by housing, apartments or offices units. Developers must apply on behalf of domestic buyers for the titles of the strata. In the case of landed properties (semi-D, terrace, bungalows) and owners, individual titles are usually given.

 

Common Property Vs Limited Common Property

Common property refers to any other construction area not belonging to an individual owner of the strata unit. Instead, between all land owners, common property is shared. The gymnasium, swimming pool and elevators are examples.

There are exclusive open areas and installations in certain strata projects that can only be used by those property owners. These areas are classified as common limited land (LCP). Only penthouse owners of a condo block, for example, might have access to a private rooftop garden.

LCP is particularly useful for mixed projects, where some common properties cannot be used by the owners of commercial units. For example, in the attached residential block, shop lot owners within a mixed-use strata development would have no use of the gymnasium. To maintain and manage these restricted common areas/facilities, a separate management committee may be formed.

 

Who Manages and Upkeeps My Strata Property?

Strata developments are intended to act as a democracy in which unit owners collectively determine how best to handle the property they share through the management corporation (MC). The MC represents all owners of strata units, and all other unit owners attending the annual general meeting vote its members (AGM). They represent all owners of strata units and determine how best to handle the creation of strata. Only after the issuance of strata titles and passing at least 25% of aggregate share units to unit owners is MC eligible. Owners may request assistance from their strata management committee or the special general meeting (EGM) to support the Commissioner of Building (COB) or the Strata Management Tribunal (SMT). A joint proxy will be used to allow each piece of land (unit) to vote for one vote and a co-proprietor will vote.

 

What Are The Fees I Can Expect?

Management fees for building repairs and common assets are charged to unit owners. It is used for day-to-day repairs, maintenance and long-term building maintenance. The quantity of the maintenance charge depends on the area built in by the individual strata units. And there are 2 types of common fees, ‘service charge’ and ‘sinking fees’.

 

What Happens If I Don’t Pay Up?

There are two likely possibilities if you don’t pay the monthly fee. Your name can be put on the default list in common areas by JMB or MC, you can suspend your device, avoid using common equipment, and you can even prevent your electromagnetic access system from entering the premises.

If the defaulting individual still refuses to pay the amount owed by the Management Authority, the management authority may then file a lawsuit with the Strata Management Tribunal (SMT). The management may also receive a guarantee from the Building Commissioner (CoB) to cancel and auction moving assets from the default unit (TV set, fridge, etc).

 

What Do You Mean By By-Laws?

Strata owners are expected to enter into an arrangement with the developer called the Deed of Mutual Covenant prior to the Strata Management Regulations (SMR) 2015, upon the signing of the Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA) (DMC). The DMC serves as ‘House Rules which govern the property of the strata, do’s and don’ts.

After the implementation of the new legislation, the DMC was replaced by the regulations laid down in the third schedule of the 2015 SMR. For the purposes of controlling the supervision, maintenance, management, administration, usage and enjoyment of individual units and common property, these by-laws are laid down. It includes issues such as car parking and use, solid waste disposal, construction and work on home remodelling, among others.

Your management committee is also allowed, by a special resolution at the general meeting, to make additional by-laws, such as regulations on the holding of pets, as long as they do not interfere with the current by-laws.

 

Common Property Defect Account?

The Common Property has a defect liability duration of 24 months within your residential strata unit, equivalent to that of your strata unit. In the case of defects in their common property as leaking or defective elevation within the defect era, Strata’s owners have the alternative to say.

The developer must apply 0,5% of the total cost of construction (RM50,000) before handing over strata units, whichever is higher than the COB. This sum shall be deposited into a statutory account in order to make sure that the development is faulty. If the sum to cover all costs is inadequate, the developer must add the remainder.

 

What Are My Rights?

  • Request For Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM)

To interfere immediately on all matters. Within six weeks of the receipt of the written petition by strata owners who together are allowed to hold at least 25% of the total share units, the Chairman of the Committee should call for an EGM. Certain committee decisions, including the granting of maintenance contracts for family members/friends and the abuse of funds, were not met by owners. If the management turns a blind eye to the EGM submission, the owners may then request the assistance of the building commissioner (COB) or SMT.

 

  • Vote During AGM & EGM

In order for owners to exercise this right, all the remaining service costs must be resolved before an AGM or an EGM. Those not allowed to vote for a motion would not be allowed to do so. Each land parcel (unit) shall have the right to one vote. A co-owner can vote with or without a common proxy appointed by a co-owner. For instance, a representative who represents her husband who owns a unit will vote for her in his name. Notice that if a delegate is not an owner it is not allowed to be a member of the committee.

 

  • Request For The Review Of Service Charges & Sinking Fund

Should the owners be unhappy with the management’s fees, including any additional charges, then they can order the COB to analyse them. The COB would then assess the correct amount to charge or receive the recommendation from a licenced property manager.

 

  • File A Claim Under The Strata Management Tribunal (SMT)

Where any conflict related to strata management falls under the control of the SMT, you are covered under the SMT. The SMT was developed to provide viable solutions for disputes about the failure of SMA 2013 to fulfil its role, duty and power. Differences under the SMT can be dealt with at minimum rates, since no legal counsel is permitted (so high legal costs can be eliminated) and as compared with a court processing costs it has cheaper filing fees. The SMT has a monetary authority of no more than RM 250,000, however.

 

To read more please scroll further:

Decades ago, ‘strata’ was probably a rather alien concept for property owners in Malaysia who were more accustomed to landed houses. Now it is part of mainstream lingo for many homebuyers and investors. The increasing popularity of strata properties and high rise housing developments, in particular, can be attributed to the scarcity of land, higher land costs in various urban areas throughout Malaysia and a growing demand for security features, among other reasons

Recent statistics bear this out. In the Malaysian Property Market report 2018 from the Valuation & Property Services Department (JPPH), condominiums and apartments formed the bulk of new launches at 36.8%, followed by two to three-storey terrace houses at 29.0%.

If you are currently looking to purchase a condominium or apartment unit then there is a high chance of you stumbling across certain strata terms and jargons which might prove daunting. Many Malaysians do not even know what strata actually means! No worries, you’ve come to the right place. Of course, it would be impossible to explain all the complexities of strata property in one article, but here are 10 frequently asked questions (FAQs) that may serve as a useful beginner’s guide:

 

1. What is the meaning of ‘strata’?

The term ‘strata’ was first introduced legally in 1985 in response to the mushrooming of multi-storey structures as a result of urbanisation in major Malaysian cities. However, strata only came into the spotlight with the implementation of the Strata Management Act 2013 (SMA 2013) on June 1, 2015.

The new enactment serves to correct the limitations of its predecessor, Building and Common Property (Maintenance and Management) Act 2007. The SMA 2013 provides clearer and more stringent provisions on the management of stratified properties in Malaysia, including residential, commercial and mixed-use developments.

 

2. What is a strata property?

As per SMA 2013, a strata title allows property buyers ownership or co-ownership of part of a (strata) property. A strata property is defined as a development or scheme where the building or land is carved out into different lots or ‘parcels’. Residential strata properties include high rises such as flats, apartments, condominiums, townhouses, as well as landed homes in gated and guarded (G&G) communities.

Meanwhile, an example of a ‘parcel’ is a condominium unit within a condominium block. These accessory parcels and common property are managed by a management body.

 

3) What are the main differences between a strata title and individual title?

Typically, strata titles are issued for properties in a multi-storey building where the land usually belongs to the owners or developers of the property. Strata titles are divided into separate individual titles issued to units of houses, apartments or offices within a development that share common facilities.

Developers are required to apply for the strata titles on behalf of home buyers. On the other hand, individual titles are normally issued in cases of landed properties (semi-D, terrace, bungalows) and to owners of the land.

 

4) What is common property and limited common property?

Common property refers to any other area in the development which does not belong to an individual strata unit owner. Rather, common property is shared between all property owners. Examples include the gymnasium, swimming pool and elevators.

In some strata developments, there are specific common areas and facilities which can only be utilised by certain property owners. These areas are known as limited common property (LCP). For instance, only penthouse owners of a condo block could have access to a private rooftop garden.

LCP is especially useful for mixed developments, where the owners of commercial units cannot utilise certain common properties. For example, shop lot owners within a mixed-use strata development will have no use of the gymnasium in the attached residential block. A separate management committee can be established to maintain and manage these limited common areas/facilities.

 

5) Who manages and maintains my strata property?

Strata developments are supposed to operate as a democracy, where unit owners collectively decide how to best manage the property that they share via the Management Corporation (MC). The MC serves to represent all the strata unit owners, where its members are voted in by all other unit owners who attend the Annual General Meeting (AGM).

Main responsibilities of the MC include enforcing rules and regulations, managing and maintaining common properties, paying quit rent, obtaining insurance and complying with relevant laws and policies. However, an MC can only be established after strata titles have been issued, and at least a quarter (25%) of the aggregate share units have been transferred to unit owners.

In the meantime, an interim body, called Joint Management Body (JMB) will be set up to run things, starting from the time of delivery of vacant possession by the developer to the purchasers. This gap in time of forming the MC, also known as the Developer’s Management Period is meant to be a grace period for the owners to learn the trade of managing their own property with the holding hand of the developer.

 

6. What fees do I have to pay for my strata unit?

Unit owners pay management fees for the maintenance of the building and common properties. This will be used for everyday repairs and upkeep purposes, as well as long term maintenance of the building. The quantum of the management fees depends on the built-up area of the respective strata units.

There are two types of fees:

Service Charge: Monthly payments for maintaining common facilities and common property in the development such as swimming pools, elevators, and security services. Also known as maintenance fees.

Sinking Fund: Covers future capital expenses, which are not as frequent – such as the painting of the facade, refurbishment works or replacement of fixtures. The fund’s amount must be enough to cover all the development’s expenses; it is usually collected in advance and a charge of 10% of the service charge is customarily applied.

 

7. What happens if I don’t pay my service charges?

If you fail to pay the monthly fee, there are two likely scenarios. The JMB or MC may display your name on the defaulter list in common areas, suspend services to your unit, stop you from using common facilities and even bar you from entering the building by deactivating your electromagnetic access device.

Should a defaulter still refuse to pay up the amount due, the management body will then file a claim with the Strata Management Tribunal (SMT), where the errant strata owner will be brought before the SMT for an order to pay up. The management could even obtain a warrant from the Commissioner of Building (COB) that allows them to rescind movable property from the defaulter’s unit (television set, refrigerator, etc) and auction it off.

 

8. What are by-laws?

Prior to Strata Management Regulations (SMR) 2015, upon the signing of the Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA), strata owners are required to enter into an agreement with the developer called the Deed of Mutual Covenant (DMC). The DMC serves as ‘House Rules’ which govern the do’s and don’ts of the strata property.

Now that the new act has been enforced, the DMC has been replaced with by-laws, which are all laid out in the third schedule of the SMR 2015. These by-laws are established for the purposes of regulating the control, maintenance, management, administration, use and enjoyment of the individual units and common property. It covers matters such as parking and use of vehicles, disposal of solid waste, renovation and home remodelling works, among others.

Your management committee is also empowered to make additional by-Laws such as rules over the keeping of pets via a special resolution during the general meeting, as long as they do not contradict with the existing by-laws.

 

9. What is the Common Property Defect Account?

The Common Property within your residential strata building has a defect liability period of 24 months, similar to the one for your strata unit. Strata owners have the alternative to claim for any defect in their common property such as leakages or faulty elevators within the defect period.

Before the handing over of strata units, the developer will have to submit 0.5% of the estimated construction cost or RM50,000; whichever is higher to the COB. This amount is to be deposited into a statutory account as a provision for any possible defect in the development. Should the sum be insufficient to cover any expenses, the developer must top up the remaining amount.

 

10. What are my rights as a strata property owner?

You have various legal rights as a strata property owner. These include:

A) Right to request for an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM): To provide timely intervention for any issues. The Chairman of the committee should convene for an EGM within 6 weeks of receiving the requisition in writing from strata owners who are together entitled to at least 25% of the aggregate share units. There have been instances where owners are unhappy with certain committee decisions such as the awarding of maintenance works’ contracts to family members/friends and the misuse of funds. Should the management turn a blind eye to the request for an EGM, owners can then seek help from the Commissioner of Building (COB) or the SMT.

B) Right to vote during AGM and EGM: To exercise this right, owners will have to settle all of their outstanding service charges prior to the AGM or EGM. Those who fail to do so will not be allowed to cast a vote for any resolution. Each parcel of land (unit) will be entitled to one vote. A co-strata owner may vote by means of a jointly appointed proxy, or by appointing any one of the owners. For example, a proxy who is representing her husband who owns a unit will be able to cast a vote on his behalf. Do note that a proxy is not allowed to be a committee member if he/she is not an owner.

C) Right to request for the review of Service Charges & Sinking Fund  
In the event where owners are unsatisfied with the fees being implemented by the management, including any increase in charges, they could apply for its review to the COB. The COB will then determine the right amount that should be charged or get a registered property manager to recommend the said amount.

(D) Right to file a claim under the Strata Management Tribunal (SMT)
You are protected under the SMT, where any dispute related to strata management falls under the jurisdiction of the SMT. The SMT was formed to provide feasible solutions for disputes regarding the failure to perform a function, duty or power imposed by SMA 2013. Disputes under the SMT can be handled at a minimum cost as no legal representation is allowed (thus eliminating high legal costs) and it has cheaper filing fees as compared with a court proceeding. However, the SMT has a pecuniary jurisdiction not exceeding RM250,000.

 

Source: iProperty

Kevin Hans Jun Wei Samuel No Comments

Do You Know Your Rights As A Strata Property Owner?

Malaysia has a highly competitive real estate market. But in recent years, a specific form of property has risen in popularity because of high costs and scarcity of land in urban areas – strata. Of note, roughly 30% of the population of the country reside in structures called strata.

 

What is a strata property owner?

Strata property is classified as a construction or scheme where the building or land is divided into different parcels. Typical strata are homes with high elevation, such as flats, studios, condos and townhouses. These include guarded and secure neighbourhoods, protection, parking lots and common owner facilities.

In comparison to individual titles, the land under strata titles belongs to the property owners or developers where the buyer is the sole proprietor. In essence, they are individual titles assigned to homes, apartments or offices units within a joint development. These include guarded and secure neighbourhoods, protection, parking lots and common owner facilities.

In compliance with the 1985 Strata Title Act, developers must register on behalf of customers for the ticket strata. The owner of the property may use the property, as it is used under a single title, when the Strata title is given.

The presence of ‘common’ and ‘limited common’ property within a strata development is another significant difference from individual titles. The first refers to any property that is shared among the developers of all strata. The gym, a pool, a lift, corridors and other areas not belonging to a separate holder are included. Specific areas and services that can only be used by those land owners are limited common property. A private rooftop garden may be an example to be open only to penthouse owners.

In addition, under the Strata Management Tribunal (SMT), each unitholder has a right to claim. As no legal representation is permitted, any conflict related to strata management can be resolved at a minimal expense. This reduces litigation expenses that are high. In contrast to legal cases, it also has cheaper filing fees. The SMT has a pecuniary authority of not more than RM 250,000, however.

 

Who manages these properties?

A Management Corporation (MC) is made up of unit owners chosen by the other tenants. They represent all owners of strata units and determine how best to handle the creation of strata. Only after the issuance of strata titles and passing at least 25% of aggregate share units to unit owners is MC eligible. Owners may request assistance from their strata management committee or the special general meeting (EGM) to support the Commissioner of Building (COB) or the Strata Management Tribunal (SMT). A joint proxy will be used to allow each piece of land (unit) to vote for one vote and a co-proprietor will vote.

 

If you own a unit, what do you need to pay?

Any unit holder must pay maintenance fees to maintain the building and common assets. Usually there are two kinds of charges:

 

  • Service Charge

Monthly fees to manage common infrastructure and facilities such as swimming pools, lifts and security facilities throughout the construction process. These are sometimes called maintenance costs.

 

  • Fund for sinking

A reserve fund collected for future expenditures by the owner of the strata. Examples include façade decoration, refurbishment, or installation replacement.

If the owner does not pay the fees, his name will appear on the standard list in common areas and suspended services to his unit. The JMB or MC may also stop him from using common installations and may even prohibit his entry into the house.

And if the unit holder is unhappy with the amount of maintenance charges set by the developer or JMB, or suspect overpaying the maintenance fees then a commissioner can request a revision. The commissioner would then nominate a property manager to recommend a maintenance charge to the JMB or developer.

 

  • Quit Rent

Quit rent is a form of land tax that local property owners pay by land offices or Pejabat Tanah Dan Galian to the Malay Government (PTG). “Cukai Tanah” in Malay more widely known.

The Selangor Land and Mines Office (PTGS) replaced quit rent with parcel rent billing for stratified buildings in June 2018. It was changed to benefit unit owners wanting to sell or move property ownership. Incidents occurred when unit holders refused to sell their units because they could not afford to pay their rent.

Parcel rent is a form of quit rent primarily intended for properties in the strata. The Strata Management Act (SMA) 2013 and the Strata Titles Act (STA) 1985 are regulated by it. Parcel rent applies only to those who have different titles in the strata. The onus is on the unit owner to pay his quit rent for this form of billing.

 

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The property sector in Malaysia is highly competitive. But due to high costs and scarcity of land in urban areas, one particular type of property has experienced a surge in popularity in the past few years – strata. Interestingly, around 30% of the nation’s population are living in strata-titled structures.

Strata property is defined as a development or scheme where the building or land is carved out into different lots or ‘parcels’. High rise residences such as flats, apartments, condominiums, and townhouses are typical strata properties. This includes gated & guarded communities, security, car parks and facilities governed by a common owner.

1. Who is a strata property owner?

The strata owner can be any of the following:

  1. The buyer of the property.
  2. A person who is eligible to receive rental from the unit, whether as an agent, trustee, or receiver.
  3. The developer of unsold units in a development.

However, unlike individual titles where the purchaser is the sole owner, the land under strata titles belongs to the owners or developers of the property. They are essentially separate individual titles issued to units of houses, apartments, or offices within a development that shares common facilities. This includes gated & guarded communities, security, car parks and facilities governed by a common owner.

Under the Strata Title Act 1985, developers are required to apply for the strata titles on behalf of the purchasers. When the Strata title is issued, the person who owns the property can use the property like how it is used for an Individual Title.

Another major difference from individual titles is the existence of common and limited common property in a strata development. The former refers to any property shared between all the strata owners in the development. This includes the gymnasium, swimming pool, elevators, corridors and any areas which do not belong to an individual unit holder.

Limited common property is specific areas and facilities which can only be utilised by certain property owners. An example can be a private rooftop garden available to only penthouse owners of a condominium block.

 

2. Who’s in charge of managing and maintaining a Strata property?

A Management Corporation (MC) consists of unit owners who are voted in by other residents who attend the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of a strata development. They represent all strata unit owners and decide how to best manage the strata development.

Main responsibilities of the MC include enforcing rules and regulations, managing and maintaining common properties, paying quit rent, obtaining insurance, and complying with relevant laws and policies. However, an MC can only be established after strata titles have been issued, and at least a quarter (25%) of the aggregate share units have been transferred to unit owners.

In the meantime, an interim body called Joint Management Body (JMB) is set up to run things, starting from the delivery of vacant possession by the developer to the purchasers. This time gap in forming the MC, also known as the Developer’s Management Period is meant to be a grace period during which owners can learn the trade of managing their property with the guidance of the developer.

The Chairman of the advisory group committee might call for an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to mediate any issues. This should be done within six weeks of receiving the requisition in writing from strata owners who are altogether entitled to at least 25% of the aggregate share units.

There are instances when owners are unhappy with certain committee decisions, such as the awarding of maintenance works’ contracts to family members/friends and the misuse of funds. If the management turns a blind eye to the request for an EGM, owners can then seek help from the Commissioner of Building (COB) or the Strata Management Tribunal (SMT).

Strata property owners have voting rights during the AGM and EGM. Each parcel of land (unit) will be entitled to one vote. A co-owner of strata may vote using a jointly appointed proxy, or by appointing any one of the owners.

 

3. What fees do unitholders need to pay?

In order to keep the maintenance of the building and common properties running, each unitholder needs to pay management fees. There are typically two types of fees:

  • Service charge

Monthly payments for maintaining common facilities and common property in the development such as swimming pools, elevators and security services. These are also known as maintenance fees.

  • Sinking fund

A reserve fund collected from the strata owner for future expenditure. Examples include the painting of the facade, refurbishment works, or replacement of fixtures.

If a unitholder fails to pay the fees, his name may be displayed on the defaulter list in common areas and services to his unit suspended. The JMB or MC can also stop him from using common facilities and even enforce a ban on entering the building.

 

4. Are you overpaying the maintenance fees?

To derive the share units in a strata scheme, there is a standard formula under the Fourth Schedule of the Strata Titles Rules 2015. It is as the following:

Operating expenditure / Total share units in condo development = Maintenance fees to be paid

A unitholder can request a review from the commissioner if he is unhappy with the amount of the maintenance fees determined by the developer or JMB. The commissioner will then determine or instruct the JMB or developer to appoint a property manager to recommend an amount for the maintenance fees.

 

5. What is quit rent and parcel rent?

  • Quit rent

Quit rent is a form of land tax which owners of local properties have to pay to the Malaysian government through the Land Office, or Pejabat Tanah Dan Galian (PTG). It is commonly known as “Cukai Tanah” in Malay.

In June 2018, the Selangor Land and Mines Office (PTGS) replaced quit rent with parcel rent billing for stratified buildings. The change was made to help unit owners who want to sell or transfer ownership of the property. There have been incidents when unitholders were unable to sell their units because neighbours failed to pay their quit rent.

  • Parcel rent

Parcel rent is a type of quit rent that is specifically meant for strata properties. It is governed by the Strata Management Act (SMA) 2013 and the Strata Titles Act (STA) 1985. Parcel rent only applies to those who have separate strata titles. With this type of billing, the onus is on the unit owner to pay his quit rent.

 

6. The role of Strata Management Tribunal (SMT)

Each unitholder has a right to claim under the SMT. Any dispute related to strata management can be handled at a minimum cost as no legal representation is allowed. This eliminates high legal costs. It also has cheaper filing fees compared to court proceedings. However, the SMT has a pecuniary jurisdiction not exceeding RM 250,000.

 

7. Be an informed and empowered owner

Living in a strata development means living in a community with a lot of different sets of rules. Activities such as attending the AGMs and EGMs not only keep you informed but also help you play an active role. Remember, information is knowledge and knowledge is power!

 

Source: iProperty

Kevin Hans Jun Wei Samuel No Comments

Homeowners Paying Progressive Payments To Developers Beware.

Jayainthy Subramaniam eventually lost the war after more than 10 years of battling for her house when the single-storey home she bought for RM78,850 was auctioned off on December 9, 2020.

Jayainthy faithfully paid the progressive payments for her 1,400-sq-ft house to a developer from 2001 onwards. As such, when she finally got the keys to her home in 2005, she was so relieved.

The joy was shortlived, however, when she was informed that the developer, Lunas Garden Sdn Bhd, had not transferred the money to RHB Bank, the project’s funding institution. Besides that, awaiting payment of the redemption number, the house could not be transferred to her name.

This comes even as the bank receipts of all the payments she made to the developer have been shown by Jayainthy. The bank told her that she had to pay around RM100,000 in the amount of redemption, interest and other charges for her to recover the house.

Since 2009, with no interested buyers, the bank has made at least five attempts to auction off the house. Her attempts to ask the developer to at least refund her money back proved futile as she was unable to contact anyone from the company. A recent search showed that the developer had not yet been deemed insolvent, she revealed.

In 2015, she took her case to the Department of National Housing. But while two letters were sent to the developer asking for an explanation of why the house was being auctioned while it was completely paid for the developer did not respond.

Jayainthy filed an initial summons at the High Court in Alor Setar in 2017 against RHB Bank and the developer. She said the case was summarily dismissed “without any reason” instead of having a favourable decision. She was also ordered to pay RM1,500 to the lawyers of RHB Bank as expenses. Jayainthy eventually gave up the legal battle, unable to pursue her case further due to lack of funds.

There was also no response from the bank or other parties to the complaint she lodged with the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP). Ravinder Singh, CAP Chief of the Complaints Bureau, said the bank should let Jayainthy get her house back.

Jayainthy is unaware that a redemption amount must be charged for her to claim the home, he said, unlike those who acquired property through loans. “She’s an innocent customer. After taking the money in the form of progressive payments, the developer did not hand over the redemption sum to the bank,” he said.

Although the bank sympathised with her plight, a RHB spokesperson said that since she was not their client, they could not help her. Moreover, Jayainthy concluded the selling and purchase agreement with the developer, and the bank was not privy to such a deal.

 

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After more than 10 years of fighting for her house, Jayainthy Subramaniam finally lost the battle when the single-storey home that she bought for RM78,850 was auctioned off on 9 December, 2020.

“I have been told the property was sold off at an auction at the High Court in Alor Setar. We could not get any other details,” said Jayainthy as quoted by Free Malaysia Today.

The administration executive believes she was cheated out of house and home.

From 2001, Jayainthy faithfully paid a developer the progressive payments for her 1,400-sq-ft house. As such, she was so happy when she finally received the keys to her home in 2005.

However, the joy was shortlived when she was told the developer – Lunas Garden Sdn Bhd – had not remitted the money to RHB Bank, the financing institution for the project.

Moreover, the house could not be transferred to her name pending payment of the redemption sum.

This comes even as Jayainthy has shown the bank receipts of all the payments she made to the developer.

For her to reclaim the property, the bank told her that she has to pay around RM100,000 in redemption sum, interest and other charges.

The bank has made at least five attempts to auction off the property since 2009, with no interested buyers.

“It is unjust of the bank to auction the house when I have evidence that I have paid for the house in full. It was the developer who failed to pay the bank. It is my family’s hard-earned money. Is it my fault that I did not know the bank had issues with the developer?” said Jayainthi.

“The bank gave the loan to the developer, who turned out to be dishonest and did not settle the dues at the bank. So, why am I being victimised?”

Her efforts to ask the developer to at least return back her money proved futile since she could not reach anyone from the company. She revealed that a recent check showed that the developer had not yet been declared insolvent.

She brought her case to National Housing Department in 2015. But while the developer had been sent two letters asking for explanation why the house was being auctioned when it was fully paid for, no response was received from the developer.

In 2017, Jayainthy filed an originating summons against RHB Bank and the developer at the High Court in Alor Setar.

Instead of getting a favourable ruling, she said the case was summarily dismissed “without any reason”. She was also ordered to pay the lawyers of RHB Bank RM1,500 as costs.

Unable to pursue her case further due to lack of money, Jayainthy finally gave up the legal fight.

The complaint she has lodged with the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) also got no response from the bank or other parties.

Ravinder Singh, Complaints Bureau Chief at CAP, said the bank should let Jayainthy have her house back.

Unlike those who acquired properties via loans, Jayainthy is unaware that a redemption sum had to be paid for her to claim the house, he said.

“She is an innocent purchaser. The developer did not hand over the redemption sum to the bank after having taken the money in the form of progressive payments,” he said.

While the bank sympathised with her plight, an RHB spokesperson said they could not help her since she was not their customer.

The sale and purchase agreement was entered into by Jayainthy with the developer, and the bank was not privy to such contract.

 

Source: PropertyGuru