JOHOR BARU: Dozens of residents of Iskandar Malaysia's Ulu Choh publichousing project in Gelang Patah have received notices to vacate their homes for failing to pay their rent on time.
Residents committee chairman Abuzar Abdullah claimed the management had even resorted to using chains to lock the homes of those who had not settled their outstanding payments.
“They have been locking homes over the past few weeks.
"On Feb 9, they locked the iron grille while someone was still inside," he said during a press conference here.
He added that the occupant managed to come out when a police report was lodged and police directed the management to remove the chain and lock.
Abuzar said the management had also turned off water and electricity supply to some of the units.
He alleged that the management was renting some empty homes to workers from nearby projects for a much higher rental.
Rosli Abdul Ghapal, 32, said he had not paid rent for two months and was asked to move out last month.
"I told them I needed more time to find alternative accommodation for my family.
“They then allowed me to stay until the end of this month," he said, adding that besides charges for water and sewerage, the management company also collected payment for assessment tax.
He added that residents who were late in making payments would also incur late payment charges.
Nor Rahman Mohd Nayan, 30, said he and his wife had been told to move after their two-year contract expired.
"I appealed and borrowed over RM1,000 to pay the outstanding amount but they still told me to move out by the end of the month," he added.
"There are so many units here. Why evict me?" he asked, adding that he had been paying RM380 for a unit on the top floor.
The residents sought the assistance of Bukit Batu assemblyman Jimmy Puah.
Puah said he hoped to negotiate with the management team and the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA).
"No one has the right to seal a house until a court order is granted," he added.
Meanwhile, Prisma Harta Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of IRDA, which is managing the public housing project, in a statement said action was taken by the management against residents who were six months’ in arrears and those whose contracts had expired.
It said that according to the terms and conditions, a tenant would need to apply three months before the expiry of the contact to continue staying there.
“However, we allowed last-minute extensions to tenants who abide by the rules including paying their rent on time, no overdue rent when renewing their contract and no disciplinary issues as stated in the contract, based on our discretion.
“Tenants’ water and electricity supply can also be disconnected if the rental is three months’ overdue,” said the company.
There are 1,500 units in the public housing project with each tenant given a two-year contract.
“These houses are meant to provide temporary housing to transit local workers who come looking for jobs in Iskandar Malaysia.”