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Saturday September 14, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Saturday September 14, 2013 MYT 9:23:08 AM
by story andphotos by brenda ch’ng
Houses with main road frontage are sought after by businesses. -AZMAN GHANI/The Star
HOUSEOWNERS in Petaling Jaya, whose properties sit along busy main roads, face a predicament when they are saddled with the units they can neither rent nor sell to people looking for residence.
In most cases, the only prospective buyers who approach the property owners are those hunting for business premises. And being strategically situated amid or near a growing commercial centre makes such houses ideal for certain enterprises.
The areas include Section 18, SS2 and arterial roads such as Jalan Universiti, Jalan Changgai and Jalan Gasing. The types of business comprise auto workshops, car dealerships, bridal showrooms and offices.
One houseowner who knows the situation all too well is Terry Chong.
Chong, who is in his early 50s, said his parents moved into a bungalow in Section 18 in the early 1960s and it was a really nice neighbourhood then to live in.
However, he said the living conditions changed about 15 to 20 years ago when the New Pantai Expressway (NPE) was built a mere 50m away from their front door.
“My parents continued to stay there until three years ago when we managed to sell the house,” said Chong, who now lives in Bandar Utama.
He revealed that most of the buyers who contacted him were businessmen who wanted to set up car dealership or workshops.
Echoing his sentiment is Supramaniam Sinnasamy, owner of a carpet-cleaning service in Section 18, who said the area was not very conducive as a place of residence anymore.
“It is facing the highway, roads are narrow and drains are poorly maintained.
“If houseowners do not rent or sell their properties for commercial purposes, then there is nothing much else they can do with the units,” he said.
The 62-year-old said he bought the bungalow for his shop because its main road frontage appealed to him.
“The price for the 4,000 sq ft lot is reasonable and I get my own space for my business.
“Compared to renting a small office in a commercial lot, owning this space is much cheaper and more convenient,” he explained.
Bridalshop owner Tom Tieh in SS2 said renting the old bungalow lot was more conducive and cheaper compared to the shoplots in the area.
“At the shoplots, there is no parking and rental is expensive. Renting a bungalow gives us our own space for photo shoots and a carpark for customers,” he said.
Tieh is among the few bridalshop pioneers along SS2/24, who has a yearly renewable business licence since he first started operation some six years ago.
He explained that his shop is among the few who has alicence.
The other business operations set up recently are mostly either in the process of getting their licence approved or are operating without one.
Business owners’ dilemma
On the other hand, business owners along Jalan 18/6 are stuck as they are unable to get business licences despite going through the whole application process.
“I am willing to comply and pay the necessary fees but I do not know the status of this area,” said business owner Chin Tong Ming.
Chin, 55, said he only started operating in August last year after buying over the 2,800 sq ft bungalow lot for his used-car dealership.
According to Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) records, the land status for the area is zoned for residential only.
However, less than five houses out of the 17 buildings there are occupied by residents. The others have been turned into commercial units.
These 17 lots located along Jalan 18/13, 18/8 and 18/6 sit across the NPE.
“The owner of this house did not want to live here anymore,” said Chin.
Besides the heavy traffic and being surrounded by businesses, the area is prone to floods because of poorly maintained and narrow drains.
Chin has previously raised the entrance of his premises four feet high to prevent water from entering and damaging the cars.
Supramaniam started operating in 2005, after applying to MBPJ in 2004, but only heard back in 2009 when he was told his application was rejected.
He has so far received and paid three summonses since 2009 for misuse of land, but he is still appealing to get his application approved.
“We are willing to pay MBPJ the necessary fees for the licence and it can help them increase their revenue,” he said.
“We are in the process of deciding if the land should be re-gazetted or not,” said MBPJ councillor Lee Suet Sen.
He said the MBPJ would bring the issue up to the state.
He added that business owners who applied for business licence would get it if the state agreed to re-gazette the land use and if they met the guidelines set.
However, action will be taken on those who failed to apply for a business licence.
According to MBPJ Local Plan 1, some areas are allowed to be converted from residential to limited commercial status.
However, those converting are expected to adhere to the guidelines set.
Only low-traffic businesses are allowed and the building must maintain its original structure with sufficient parking spaces within its compound.
As of July this year, MBPJ has issued 16 compounds to business owners for misuse of land.
State executive councillor for local government, Datuk Teng Chang Khim said MBPJ did not have to seek state’s approval in this matter.
“This is under the jurisdiction of MBPJ and they can decide if they want to re-gazette or issue such licences.
“All the council has to do is ensure they have dialogue sessions with all parties involved and follow proper procedures,” he said.
He added that this issue need not be brought up to Selangor Economic Action Council (MTES) meeting.
Meanwhile, some residents in SS2 are urging MBPJ to come up with clear guidelines to specify which area is allowed limited commercial and which is not.
“There should be rules governing that.
“Now residents do not know which portion is legal and this makes it hard to lodge a complaint,” said SS2/88 resident who only wants to be known as Chin.
She said shops were mushrooming at terrace houses in her neighbourhood and residents are suffering the consequences.
She argued that the conversion of residential units to commercial premises was getting a bit too excessive.
“Imagine waking up one day and seeing your neighbouring house turned into a shop,” she said.
Tags / Keywords:
Central Region, houses used as business premises, Petaling Jaya
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