THE Ipoh City Council health department is facing a stumbling block in trying to locate the owners of the many abandoned houses in the city.
Its acting director Mohd Alias Kamaruddin said the department would send out notices to the postal address of the respective properties.
“To a certain extent, it is quite pointless to send out notices to get their owners to cut the overgrown grass in their compound, which are home to creepy crawlies and snakes, and also potential Aedes mosquito breeding grounds, since they are never there.
“When we do not get a response from the owners after some time, the council cuts the grass after calling for a tender.
“The owners are then billed through their assessment bills,” he told The Star.
Mohd Alias said the council had been carrying out the practice for over 10 years now to counter the problem.
“It costs about RM100 to cut the grass at each house per month and the cost for 10 years can come up to between RM4,000 and RM5,000 each house,” he added.
Mohd Alias said in most cases, the property had been left abandoned after their owners migrated overseas with their grown-up children.
“Often, people wanting to buy these houses fail to locate the owners.
“We have brought this up with the state executive council but there seems to be no solution to the problem,” he added.
He cited an example in Lim Garden, where one of the empty houses was infested with termites, giving its neighbours sleepless nights.
“We called in the pest control company to tackle the problem using council funds but how long can we continue doing this?
“We foresee similar problems happening in older residential areas such as Ipoh Garden and Canning Garden.
“Property owners should sort out such matters and appoint someone to look after their property prior to migrating,” Mohd Alias said.
A visit to two abandoned houses in Jalan Hassan in Lim Garden showed that they were literally crumbling.
Both houses did not have roofs and had overgrown grass hiding them from sight.
The gate to one of the houses is also missing while there are wires dangling from the ceiling and walls.
Neighbour M. Thiagu, 31, said the owner had migrated overseas and left both houses abandoned for almost 10 years now.
“As with most of the houses around here, they are infested with termites and the problem is getting from bad to worse.
“The neighbours here can’t do much except take precautionary measures by engaging the services of a pest control company to fumigate their houses,” he said.
Thiagu, a businessman, added that due to the unkempt compound, the abandoned houses had become breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
“We do not have the owner’s contact details and are unable to alert him as to what is happening to his houses.
“We are afraid that the houses may soon collapse and put our property and ourselves in danger,” he added.
Over at Jalan Mohanlal, three houses are left abandoned in a row.
K. Darikarani, 64, who lives nearby, said one house was left vacant after its owner passed away while another where a few bachelors had lived, was left abandoned after a raid by the police a few months ago.
“As for the third house, its owner left and never came back.
“The neighbours here do not know where the owners are and what they plan to do with the houses,” added the grandmother.