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BUILDING MANAGEMENT: Spare a thought for owners

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BUILDING MANAGEMENT: Spare a thought for owners

Post by kimmo88 on Thu Dec 06, 2012 4:03 pm

WITH all the controversy about the government proposing to make valuers solely responsible for managing housing schemes, apartments and condominiums instead of owners getting together to conduct the management themselves, it was disheartening to read a report quoting the Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung as saying that the Building and Common Property Act 2007 empowers the management company to apply to the court for an order to seize and auction the property of a delinquent house owner to offset the management fee owed.

He was quoted as saying that this was because the house owners were fully aware when they purchased their properties that they had to pay the monthly management fee for security services, etc. The rules also apply to gated apartments and condominiums.

Let me relate my experience with a management company that was supposed to do all the services stated by the minister but never did. Instead it is now busy getting its lackeys make threatening phone calls and sending SMSes to demand for payments it did not earn.

I purchased a medium-cost apartment in Selangor. The developer set up a certain management company to which all owners had to submit monthly maintenance fees and water charges.

Although the apartments have individual water meters the management company did not do any individual readings because there had been occasions when a few owners did not pay on time.

Instead of shutting the meters of the errant owners concerned the management turned off supply to the whole block and "punished" everybody even though the rest never reneged on their payments.

In 2008, I contacted Puspel, the customer services arm of Syabas, and inquired why I had to pay the minimum RM6 per month although my apartment was empty. I was told that I did not qualify as the management made bulk payments on the owners' behalf. So, I had no choice but to comply and continue payments to this management company.

As for security measures taken by the company, there was none. When we were given our apartment keys, the developer also handed a fuse that we had to attach to our meters to get electricity. Hardly a month passed when mine was stolen and I think several others suffered the same fate. So finally the management constructed a "cage-like" metal frame around the board for each block of four apartments for the five floors and the thefts stopped.

Of course we had to replace the fuses at our own expense. A chain-link fence encloses all the apartment blocks but there was no guard and the entrance was left wide open with no boom gate and anyone could enter at will.

My nieces's block even had the wiring stripped during the day and the owners only realised it when they got home from work and the electricity supply was cut off. Fortunately for my block, a housewife was at home and yelled at the thieves so they ran off.

Empty apartments in blocks where the residents all went to work had their windows and doors stripped of any valuable metal, etc. So there was nothing done by the management company as far as maintaining security was concerned.

Over the years it continued to collect maintenance fees but no repairs were done on broken stairways or repainting of the external walls from the very first day we got our keys. The management company has been very prompt in sending bills. I received one dated Aug 11, 2011 when I was billed for water from May-June, 2011 and for maintenance for August-October 2011 which I promptly paid, and for which I have the receipts.

After that there was silence and I was worried about the water bills so I went to check the letterbox at the apartment in October 2011 and there was no bill. I went to the site office of the company in Putra Perdana to inquire and make payments but was told by the accounts clerk that they no longer accepted payment from the owners of the apartment where I live and that we had to pay directly to the new management committee set up by the residents themselves.

I located the chairman and made payments for maintenance from November 2011 until April 2012 and payments for water also for six months (November 2011-April 2012).

I thought everything was settled until I received a letter dated April 18, 2012 from another company (probably another subsidiary of the developer) demanding that I pay to the earlier management company the amount of RM120 that I owed.

I was never given any bills by the latter and had no idea what the payment was for, so I ignored it as I had never heard of the company either. A second letter followed dated July 24, 2012 this time from a law firm demanding the payments plus threat of legal action but at least a computer printout of the billing breakdown was enclosed. It consisted of water billing from July-October 2011 and maintenance fees for November-December 2011 and January 2012!

I wrote back to the law firm after paying the water bills, which I wanted to pay from the very beginning of this saga but was never sent any bills, and enclosed photocopies of the payments for maintenance that I had made to the new management committee.

However, the management company, instead of dealing directly with the committee to get the so-called arrears for November-December 2011 and January 2012 (three months) decided to harass owners by making phone calls and sending SMSes at odd times of the day demanding payment.

Even the committee members were not spared the harassment. Why do we have to pay to the management company again when we have already paid to the management committee for the duration stated?

Besides, according to the committee chairman the management company owed almost half a million ringgit to Syabas as it did not forward our payments but had kept the money. The present committee managed to get Syabas to accept payments by installments for the sum owed and not cut off the water supply to apartment owners.

I am fortunate as I am a retiree now so the company cannot harass me at the place of work, as they did to some other owners who were forced to pay again to them (after paying to the committee) because their bosses were annoyed by the constant calls.

I have kept records of all the SMSes and phone calls made and I am thinking whether to lodge a police report or pursue the case in the Consumers' Tribunal or both for the uncalled-for harassment and mental stress. I would like to ask why the authorities show concern only for management companies? What about us owners?

Dr Noran Abdul Majid Subang Jaya, Selangor

Read more: BUILDING MANAGEMENT: Spare a thought for owners - Letters to the Editor - New Straits Times
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Re: BUILDING MANAGEMENT: Spare a thought for owners

Post by Saiful on Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:28 pm

Putra Perdana = Talam ???? Sad
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