While strata living has become a norm in major cities in Peninsular Malaysia such as Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor, over in Sarawak, strata residences and community living are only in their infancy.
"We developed Naim Bahagia Residences (Naim Bahagia) stratified walk-up apartment in Naim Bandar Baru Permyjaya to provide affordable homes for the mid-income group within a safe and secure living environment," says Naim Holdings Bhd deputy managing director Christina Wong.
Naim Bahagia Residences is one of the first stratified properties in Naim Bandar Baru Permyjaya, one of the largest townships in Miri, Sarawak being developed by Naim Group of Companies since 1995. It is home to more than 20% of Miri's population today.
And with all things new, it took time for the people here to understand and accept strata living. Hence, when the apartment project was being marketed, it posed a challenge to the developer to explain to prospective owners, the need for maintenance fees and house rules.
"Therein lies the importance of educating residents on the beauty of strata and community living." says Wong.
Despite the challenges, Naim Bahagia received a Special Mention at EdgeProp Malaysia's Best Managed Property Awards 2019 in the below 10 years multi-own strata residential category.
Wong also believes one has to go back to basics when managing a strata property and this includes keeping the residents' interest in mind constantly and adopting a culture of inclusiveness, which means open communication, transparency and engagement are key.
"Property management should be the top priority for stratified properties because a property that is not well-managed signals the beginning of the end," she stresses.
"Getting this recognition lays a very good foundation for our group in our pursuit of excellence in property management of our existing and upcoming stratified developments. We are both honoured and inspired by it," Wong shares.
Launched in February 2014, Naim Bahagia was handed over in early 2017. It comprises 288 walk-up apartments spread over nine blocks of four-storeys each.
The project has facilities such as a jogging track, a children's playground, landscaped gardens and 24-hour security with guardhouse and CCTV monitoring. As the project is part of the Naim Bandar Baru Permyjaya township, residents also get to enjoy amenities such as a community hall, places of worship and education establishments there, says Naim Property Services Sdn Bhd (Naim's property management arm) manager Clement Chin Shoon Choi, also the property manager of Naim Bahagia Residences.
Chin shares that managing Naim Bahagia is not an easy task as the Strata Management Act does not apply in Sarawak. Instead, he adds, it has the Strata Title Ordinance 1995 (Sarawak) which provides limited guidelines and contains many grey areas on how common areas are to be managed, which explains the varied patterns and colours on the window grilles of some of Naim Bahagia's units.
"We've raised this issue during the recent AGM. The Joint Management Committee (JMC) suggested a minimum of two designs to be provided to the residents and the residents should comply with those designs.
"A circular will be issued to residents who will be given sufficient time to arrange and comply with the design," he says.
Building a community
Chin believes having a united community is the first step towards a successful stratified property.
In Naim Bahagia's AGM in March, a pro-tem JMC working committee was formed. "There was a good level of participation by the owners who have provided us constructive suggestions on how to upgrade the standard of living at the development. This working committee will meet at least once a month to discuss issues, find solutions and make decisions for the benefit of the residents and owners," says Chin.
The committee is already actively planning community activities such as Blood Donation Campaign, health talks, Zumba sessions and get-togethers. The JMC is also looking to upgrade the chain-link fencing, install a car park shade, construct a community hall and plant more trees for shade.
"The residents have been made aware that to implement these improvements, the current sinking fund will not be sufficient. As such, the committee has agreed to organise activities with the help of the developer to raise additional funds," Chin notes, adding that it takes continuous effort to educate owners on the importance of property maintenance as it will affect the property's value in the long run.