Flat owners refuse to pay for maintenance

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BY BAVANI M

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THEY were squatting in Kampung Haji Abdullah Hukum for decades until they were relocated into a new housing scheme called Putra Ria in Jalan Bangsar about 20 years ago.

The three-bedroom-two-bathroom units, measuring 600 sq ft, were later sold to them for RM32,000 per unit, while corner lots went for RM35,000.

Today the asking rate for each units is between RM220,000 and RM250,000 each. And the rent can go as high up as RM1,700.

Understandably so, since Putra Ria is one of the last few low-cost developments left in the posh neighbourhood of Bangsar.

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Old rotting motorcycles arean eyesore in Putra Ria's premises.

Today, more than 50% of the residents are foreigners working in and around the township.

Unit owners are able to rake in high rental rates due to the strategic location of the apartment.

Some owners have no qualms renting out their units to more than 10 people because they claim the foreign tenants are better paymasters.

Taxpayers footing the bill

But guess who is paying for their maintenance fees?

Despite buying over the units from Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) almost two decades ago, the owners of the units refuse to pay maintenance fees.

“We have tried numerous times employing all sorts of methods to get them to take responsibility and ownership of their home, which includes the flats’ grounds and common areas, but they have this attitude that they are entitled to free service,” said DBKL Housing Management and Community Development director Wan Mohammad Ghazali.

“The properties are now private and as the legal owners, these residents should have formed their own management corporations (MCs) and joint management bodies (JMBs) by now to manage the accounts and have a proper collection system.

Thursday, 9 June 2016 Flat owners refuse to pay for maintenance BY BAVANI M      Popular Now in Metro Fine-tuning entrepreneurs’ skills DBKL to go full force with raids on PPR units after Hari Raya String of dumplings in Jalan Alor sets new record A book dedicated to the Penans Too close for comfort THEY were squatting in Kampung Haji Abdullah Hukum for decades until they were relocated into a new housing scheme called Putra Ria in Jalan Bangsar about 20 years ago. The three-bedroom-two-bathroom units, measuring 600 sq ft, were later sold to them for RM32,000 per unit, while corner lots went for RM35,000. Today the asking rate for each units is between RM220,000 and RM250,000 each. And the rent can go as high up as RM1,700. Understandably so, since Putra Ria is one of the last few low-cost developments left in the posh neighbourhood of Bangsar. 1 Old rotting motorcycles are an eyesore in Putra Ria’s premises.2 Various items are left in the common area.3 Leaking pipes are resulting in mould to grow on the walls of the building. Old rotting motorcycles arean eyesore in Putra Ria's premises. Today, more than 50% of the residents are foreigners working in and around the township. Unit owners are able to rake in high rental rates due to the strategic location of the apartment. Some owners have no qualms renting out their units to more than 10 people because they claim the foreign tenants are better paymasters. Taxpayers footing the bill But guess who is paying for their maintenance fees? Despite buying over the units from Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) almost two decades ago, the owners of the units refuse to pay maintenance fees. “We have tried numerous times employing all sorts of methods to get them to take responsibility and ownership of their home, which includes the flats’ grounds and common areas, but they have this attitude that they are entitled to free service,” said DBKL Housing Management and Community Development director Wan Mohammad Ghazali. “The properties are now private and as the legal owners, these residents should have formed their own management corporations (MCs) and joint management bodies (JMBs) by now to manage the accounts and have a proper collection system. 1 Old rotting motorcycles are an eyesore in Putra Ria’s premises.2 Various items are left in the common area.3 Leaking pipes are resulting in mould to grow on the walls of the building. Various items are left in the common area.

Various items are left in the common area.

“But they simply refuse to take responsibility for that,” said Wan Mohammad.

He said DBKL had tried relentlessly to get the residents to meet up and to help them manage their units better, but no one has ever turned up for the meetings.

“When we set up a temporary JMB for them, then we get the situation where some residents pay and some refuse to,” he said.

“This makes things very difficult for DBKL; most of the times the funds come from taxpayers or from the 1Malaysia Maintenance Fund (TP1M) to give the place a much needed facelift,” he added.

In 2012, DBKL was forced to undertake the maintenance of Putra Ria flats after it was directed to do so by the Federal Territories Ministry.

DBKL paid for the cost of maintenance, cleaning and repair works.

Leaking pipes are resulting in mould to grow on the walls of the building.

Leaking pipes are resulting in mould to grow on the walls of the building.

Residents were told to pay the maintenance fees of RM49 and RM53 per month based on the size of their units but less than 30% paid up.

Putra Ria is not a unique case. There are many government housing schemes in Kuala Lumpur where units have been sold to tenants but the tenants-turned-owners refuse to pay the maintenance fees.

Legal action to be taken

It is learnt that Putra Ria residents have been issued warning notices to settle their dues, failing which they will be taken to court.

The average household owes between RM5,000 and 10,000 in unpaid fees including interest.

Taxpayers are paying millions each year to maintain these flats which house former squatters relocated into low-cost housing schemes in areas such as Sentul, Sungai Besi, Bangsar, Setapak and Seputeh.

And they include people who have already bought over units in the PPR (People’s Housing Scheme) flats.

DBKL manages a total of 73,726 units of low-cost and PPR flats in 98 neighbourhoods.

Of that number, 59,876 units have been rented out while 13,850 units or about 18.8% have been bought over by residents.

Entitlement mentality must go

But the majority of the owners still expect DBKL to foot the bill for the flats’ upkeep.

Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Mohd Amin Nordin Abd Aziz said former squatters must take pride and ownership of their homes and let go of the attitude of entitlement.

“This entitlement mentality is very bad for the city and it is moving us backward.

“Residents must stop complaining and take responsibility,” he said.

The mayor cited as example of a group of former squatters who were relocated into government housing schemes in Sentul.

“We offered them units to buy at the lowest price, but today despite being owners of the units, they still expect DBKL to pay their maintenance fees,” he said.

He added that DBKL even had to pay the plumbing cost of RM10,000 to repair a leaking pipe.

Amin Nordin said DBKL allocated RM10mil every year to maintain its low-cost housing schemes and 40% of that went to repairing vandalised facilities.

In 2015, RM20mil was used for repairing 523 lifts damaged in 45 public housing units and PPR schemes.

Why should we pay?

StarMetro visited the Putra Ria flats in Bangsar recently and found the premises looking deplorable and dilapidated.

There were leaks in many spots on the ageing 20-year-old building as evident from the moss-covered ceilings and walls.

The railings were corroding and disintegrating.

Rubbish was strewn all over the place and we spotted human faeces in more than one area!

Abandoned, old motorcycles and cars were an eyesore.

One of the residents, who identified himself only as Saiful, told us that he was renting a unit for RM850 a month and has been living there for eight years.

“It is cheap considering that this is Bangsar and conveniently located next to a LRT station.

“I do not mind the mess, we pay for the location’s convenience and not the beauty,” he said.

Resident Siti Aminah rents out her unit to 15 Bangladeshis for RM1,500 a month.

“They are good boys. They pay on time every month, no hassle at all.

“That is why people here like to rent out to foreigners more than Malaysians,” she said.

Another resident, Kamarul Bahrin who rents out his unit to 10 Indonesian workers for RM1,200 a month, said he stopped staying at Putra Ria a few years ago.

“It was no longer conducive for my family as the place was getting really bad.

“The facilities are dilapidated and the lifts break down every other week,” he said.

“No one wants to maintain the place, no one wants to pay the maintenance fees.

“Now there is also a tussle between two groups of residents over the setting up of JMB.

“I am fed up with the lack of drive to get things moving,” he added.

When we asked him if he had ever paid the maintenance fees, he replied: “I used to pay at the beginning, but I stopped. It does not seem fair to me to pay while the rest do not,” said Kamarul.

“Most people are not going to pay up as they know that the government will absorb the fees eventually, like what they did during the last election,” he added.

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