Make them pay
By Salleh Buang
Punitive measures are in place for false advertising, perhaps it is time
to exercise them.
According to newspaper reports last April, 32 condo owners who had
earlier sued their developer, Endah Raya Realty Sdn Bhd for breach of
contract had finally agreed to an out-of-court settlement.
The subject matter of their dispute was the Shang Village condominium
project in Kelana Jaya. The plaintiffs had filed a court action against
the developer whom they felt had wrongly deceived them through
misrepresentations in its advertising brochures. Apart from the developer
(sued as first defendant), the plaintiffs had also sued Shan Management
Services Sdn Bhd ( as second defendant) and Talam Corporation Bhd (project
manager, as third defendant ).
While we may not know the actual terms of the agreed settlement (as the
parties might like to keep them confidential), we can all derive an
important lesson from the episode. And that lesson is this: house buyers
should stand up and fight for their rights.
To fight well with a reasonably good chance of winning, three things
are important. First, house have all the relevant documents and records in
good order. Second, they must get all the affected purchasers to agree to
a certain course of action (there is actually strength in numbers). Third,
once the fight has started, the purchasers must not give up until they
Even if they do not win on all points of their claims, they will
certainly not lose everything - which might probably be the case if they
had given up from the start.
In their civil action against the defendants, the plaintiffs contended
that the defendants enticed them by several representations ( in sales
brochures and newspaper advertisements) that the condominium project would
be provided with several common facilities e.g. a swimming pool, wading
pool, jacuzzi, gymnasium, sauna, jogging track, multi-purpose hall and a
children's development centre.
However, when the SPA was signed, no mention was made of these
facilities. This was certainly a sore point for the plaintiffs, having
regard to the price of these condo units, ranging from RM170,000 to
RM262,000. that the developer had unilaterally changed the plans in the
sales agreement. The plaintiffs also claimed that the defendants had
breached their contract because they had failed to compete the
construction of the project on the agreed date and had failed to provide
all the facilities as promised in the brochures. The developer had also
failed to give vacant possession of the condo units within the stipulated
By way of defence, the defendants argued that the plaintiffs no longer
had the right to sue them because the plaintiffs had absolutely assigned
theirs rights and interests in the condominium to various financial
institutions (from which they had obtained end financing to complete the
purchase). The defendants argued that the plaintiffs should have made the
relevant financial institutions a party to the action. The defendants had
also counter-claimed against the plaintiffs maintenance fees, insurance
premium, quit rent and basic utility charges according to the sale and
A look a the law (the Housing Developers (Control and Licensing)
Regulations 1989) shows that very little is mentioned of false
advertisements. Regulation 5(1) states that "No advertisement or sale
shall be made by any licensed housing developer without an advertisement
and sale permit having first been obtained from the Controller". That is
easily understood. A housing developer must obtain and advertisement
permit before he can advertise the sale of his project. And he cannot sell
any house until he has obtained the permit to sell. Since the permit to
advertise and the permit to sell is found in the same document (issued
under Regulation 5(4), Schedule E) advertising brochures and the standard
sale and purchase agreement (SPA) go hand in hand.
Without an advertising and sale permit, there is no way a developer can
collect any money from a prospective purchaser. This is because under the
law, no money can be collected unless the SPA has been signed (see Third
Schedule of the SPA, item 1).
Regulation 5(2) describes the procedure involved in applying for the
advertisement permit. It has to be made in the prescribed form and must be
accompanied by several document such a copy of the approved building
plans, two copies of the proposed advertisement including brochures, and
such other particulars of information as may be required by the
Controller. The brochures are to contain "particulars as prescribed under
paragraph (1) of Regulation 6".
It is on Regulation 5(3) that we focus our attention. This states that
"Any misrepresentation of the particulars or information required under
paragraph (2) of this regulation shall be an offence under these
With regards to the brochures, as already mentioned above, these must
contain certain particulars. Under Regulation 6(1), there are 10 items
which must be mentioned in these brochures, and of these, the law requires
the developer to describe " the proposed housing accommodation".
Regulation 6(2) then concludes that a developer " shall issue a
brochure in respect of the housing accommodation of each purchaser free of
Put in simple terms, the general impression that the contractual
relationship between the developer and the purchaser rest solely on the
standard SPA is actually incorrect. The SPA is an important document, but
it is not the sole consideration in determining the rights and obligations
of the parties.
The brochures and any other advertising material which have induced (
or are calculated to induce) the purchaser to sign the SPA become an
integral part of the contract between the developer and the purchaser. For
that reason, Regulation 5(3) states that any misrepresentation is an
offence, because it is deception that has induced a party (the purchaser)
to enter into a contract (the SPA) with another (the developer).
Under Regulation 13, any person who contravenes any provision of the
Regulations " shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon
conviction to a fine not exceeding RM5,000 or to a term of imprisonment
not exceeding three years or both".
My question is whether you have heard of any managing director of a
property development company being sent off to Sungai Buloh or Kajang
prison for a year for false advertising?