Do research before signing deal, association advises

Chang says the rights of the minority must be protected in any en bloc sale.

THE National House Buyers Association (HBA) advises against en bloc sale of units in strata properties.

Its secretary-general Datuk Chang Kim Loong said that while the move would benefit the majority of residents who agreed to any redevelopment, it would be unfair to the minority.

“Forcing people to sell their units is not right, ” he stressed.

En bloc sale is where strata property owners collectively agree to sell units in their building to one buyer.

In April 2019, The Star reported then Federal Territories minister Khalid Abdul Samad stating in Parliament that the government would be putting forward a new piece of legislation to ensure an effective and implementable urban renewal process, which at the same time would bring more clarity to en bloc sale.

In Singapore, a building that is less than 10 years old requires 80% of its residents to agree while in Hong Kong, the threshold is 90%.

“In Malaysia, if 75% of residents agree, the remaining 25% are forced to sell as well.

“To me, this is not right as the minority must be protected.

“They may have their reasons as to why they want to remain where they are.

“It is not right to displace first- generation owners who bought their units many years ago, just because second and third-generation owners want to make some money, ” he added.

Chang, however, said there had been cases where an en bloc sale had been successful.

He cited the 52-year-old low-cost flats in Sungai Besi called Razak Mansion, where the developer managed to get 100% consent from owners.

“In that case, it was a windfall for owners who gave up their old units for new ones, free of charge.

“They even got two parking bays each.

“But my contention is if the units are not condemned as being unfit for habitation, no one should be forced out of their homes, ’’ he reiterated.

As for the communities that are currently facing redevelopment, like those at Flat Sri Lempah, Chang advised residents to be cautious and to do their homework before signing any deal.

“Firstly, check the developers’ financial records.

“A company’s reputation is an important factor and you can tell from their previous projects.

“And if a subsidiary company is involved, get an undertaking that the parent company will vouch for their performance, ’’ he advised.

Chang said residents should also do a background check at the Housing and Local Government Ministry on the directors of the company.

This is because blacklisted companies and members of their boards of directors are listed on the ministry’s website.

“Everything should be in a contract and never fall for offers of free legal fees and advice, ’’ he said, highlighting that residents should engage their own lawyers.

“If you have to pay for a lawyer, pay for it.

“It is always prudent to get an independent lawyer to act on your behalf.

“Make sure that details like monetary compensation, one-time payment or rental rate in the vicinity, transportation as well as relocation costs are clearly stated in the contract, ’’ Chang added.

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