to revamp the Housing Developers Act
NST-PROP By Salleh Buang
The Housing Developers Act 1966 which is more than 30
years old is in need of a total revamp, judging from the number of calls
by the public and local leaders. Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu
Koon is among the leaders who want the Act to be revamped as early as
One of Koh's arguments for the move is that the
State Governments should be empowered to take action against defaulting
developers - especially those who do not complete their projects in time.
The Chief Minister pointed out that under the Act as it
stands, State Governments and local authorities have no power to take
action against developers who delay in commencing or completing their
While land matters are indeed within the exclusive
domain of the State, housing is still under the exclusive purview of the
Ministry of Housing and Local Government.
Beyond supervision of the actual construction work,
there is nothing much the State can do.
Koh felt compelled to demand the early revamp of the Act
after meeting with representatives of Majestic Heights Sdn Bhd and the
purchasers of Taman Terubung Indah in Penang in July this year.
The purchasers told Koh that although they had been
given keys to their housing units, they had still not been given their
Certificates of Fitness (CF( by the local authority because the developer
has been slow in completing the project's infrastructure.
In early October this year, the Housing Ministry
announced that the Uniform Building By Laws 1984, would be amended so that
CFs will be "deemed issued" two weeks after developers have submitted
their applications to local authorities.
Under another proposed amendment, it will be mandatory
for developers to obtain the CFs before handing over vacant possession of
the housing units to the house buyers.
To give effect to the proposed amendments of the 1984
By-laws, the standard Sale and Purchase agreements currently in use (see
Schedules G and H of the 1989 Housing Developers Regulations) will also
have to be modified.
Housing Minister Datuk Dr Ting Chew Peh had
indicated that the Act would be extended to co-operative societies and
For the past 30 years, the Act had been applied
exclusively to private sector developers, thus treating co-op societies
and statutory bodies as favoured entities beyond the pale of the law.
It was reported that the Housing Minister had said 60
provisions in the Act would be amended to expedite the process of
approvals and to ensure the public would not be cheated by unscrupulous
However, no further announcement has been made since
then as to what these provisions are and whether they are going to erode
or enhance the primary objective of the Act - which is to protect the
The perception of the average house purchaser is that
the principal Act and the 1989 Regulations have, since an amendment
exercise implemented in 1994, tended to be in favour of the developers
rather than the purchasers.
A law is only as good as its enforcement.
The Housing Developers' Association Malaysia says that
the Act is quite adequate and there is no urgent need for a revamp.
What is required is effective and consistent enforcement.
While I do not hold any brief for any particular party
or group, I believe that the Act needs to be looked into seriously.
Any amendment envisaged must ensure that not only are
the interests of the house purchasers protected and safeguarded, but that
the housing industry should remain a viable industry in the new millennium