KOTA KINABALU: When the Land (Subsidiary Title) Enactment 1972 was introduced in Sabah in the 1970s, it was considered by property managers as the most progressive in Malaysia at that time, having adopted good salient points from Commonwealth countries.
Now the State Government is undertaking a review of the strata property law in the face of more strata property developments and associated legal issues, led by State Special Tasks Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Teo Chee Kang who heads the Steering Committee.
Asked on the progress of the review recently, Teo told Daily Express that it was in the second phase.
The first phase was completed without any changes to the existing laws, only administrative directives like on getting appropriate land conversion approval first before any development plan is to be approved by the local authority to avert needless delays, compounding Subsidiary Title application and formation of Management Corporation.
"We are into the second phase, which is to look into enacting new legislation as well as amending the existing Subsidiary Title Enactment," said Teo.
"We are looking at the Strata Management Act and the Strata Title Act applicable in West Malaysia as our reference, as well as legislation in other jurisdictions like in Singapore and possibly Hong Kong, to come up with a comprehensive solution for Sabah.
"We are not going to adopt everything from the West Malaysian Acts, we have to amend them to suit our needs in the State.
"My committee is working very closely with the State Attorney-General Chambers to come up with the draft new legislation," he said after launching the Malaysian Secondary and Primary Property Exhibition (Maspex) 2017 Sabah at the Imago Shopping Mall last weekend.
Critics claimed two State Attorneys have come and retired with hopes of getting this matter sorted out, together with representatives from professionals such as surveyors, engineers, lawyers etc, in the Steering Committee which met recently, but with no conclusion.
One of the property developers participating in exhibition was PR1MA, an agency directly under the Prime Minister's Department, which has promised to forge a community within its housing projects with direct involvement for 10 years after completion, which is laudable.
This is the way forward to stipulate that any property developer intent on building strata homes has to be around for the long term, to forge a harmonious PR1MA community, building relation with buyers and occupants of the housing project.
In Sabah, there is a litany of grouses on developers managing their completed strata projects allegedly not in the interest of the buyers pending the formation of the Management Corporation while awaiting issuance of Subsidiary Titles applied for.
These range from salaries or remuneration to own company staff or directors for property management service to refusal to pay management fees, refusal to open banking trust accounts to deposit fees collected from owners, wanton usage of management fees and hiring crony service providers for pest control, etc.
Detractors complained that some property developers and their appointed managers or firms have little respect for residents committee or recognise joint management body (JMB) which is not provided for in Sabah laws unlike the Acts of Parliament in West Malaysia.
In some cases, the property developers did not even apply for the issuance of Subsidiary Titles, did not manage to produce an audited account to justify the expenses paid out from property service management fee or never bothered to keep an account for the information of the property owners.
The Subsidiary Title Owners and Purchasers Association of Sabah hoped Teo and the committee will be able to resolve the matter once and for all soonest considering there are more foreign investors in strata property now.