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Slimmer is fitter
06/09/2003  NST-PROP By Salleh Buang

Thank goodness the problem regarding delay in the issuance of Certificates of Fitness for Occupation (CF) for built properties is nearing an end. Do you know it had been a blight on our property landscape for at least 30 years now?

Of course, several attempts had been made in the past to find a cure for it. Nobody should doubt the sincerity of the authorities in trying to do it. But in the end, none of the solutions worked as they were all plagued by that disease called BRT. Yes, Bureaucratic Red Tape.

Mercifully, we now seem to have handled it right. As my late grandfather used to say, better late than never.

By now, readers of this column will be aware that the Housing Developers (Control & Licensing) Act 1966 was amended as recently as Dec 1 last year. Apart from a name change to the Housing Development Act, the modification brought about important changes in the law, especially with regard to the delivery of pre-sold units.

One has to do with the handing over of vacant possession by a developer to a purchaser. Section 7 of the Act (dealing with the duties of the housing developer) has been enlarged with the addition of four paragraphs, whose underlying message is that when a developer delivers vacant possession, it will give CF as well as the land title (or strata title, as the case may be) at almost the same time.

What the Act wanted to achieve was realise a dream of the Federal Government’s which, as far back as Jan 10, 1966, had issued a Cabinet directive to the local authorities saying that CF should be issued within 14 days of a building having met all structural and legal requirements.

The directive followed a joint study conducted by the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (Mampu) and the Ministry of Housing and Local Government that found many house owners waiting for indefinite periods of time for their CFs, although they had been given vacant possession (and keys) to their completed new homes.

The wait is over, once the new CF issuing procedure comes into operation next month, as developers are required to get the green light for their completed projects from only the Sewerage Services Department.

No longer do they need to get the nod from seven other technical agencies - the Public Works Department, Fire and Rescue Department, Drainage and Irrigation Department, Tenaga Nasional Bhd, the Department of Occupational Safety and Health, the Telecommunications Department and the Water Supply Department.

In the past, developers had no choice as By-Law 25 of the Uniform Building By-Laws 1984 (a subsidiary legislation made under sect. 133 of the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974), compelled them to obtain consent from all these agencies before submitting the stipulated Form E to the local authorities.

Housing Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting said the simplified procedure was aimed at killing the BRT disease, while increasing efficiency and preventing corruption.

“The Government wants to cut red tape and bureaucracy. With this new system, we hope it will also cut bribery,” he had said when announcing the move some one-and-a-half weeks ago.

In explaining the new procedure, the minister said with regard to water and electricity, housing developers must in the future sign Service Level Agreements with the respective agencies prior to embarking on any project.

For the Public Works Department and the Drainage and Irrigation Department, he said a developer’s engineers or architects could provide the certification as these professionals are licensed by their professional bodies and are recognised by the Government.

Ong also said that certifications from the Fire and Rescue Department and Department of Occupational Safety and Health would only be required for buildings that are taller than 18m or five storeys.

On an earlier directive that all CF applications be approved by the local authorities within 14 days, he said it remained in force, adding that if no reply was received after two weeks of an application, it was automatically considered approved. On the issue of building safety, he emphasised that it would not be compromised.

It’s about time we resolve this CF issue once and for all. We owe it to the purchasers.


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