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HBA to appeal for house buyers
Malay Mail 06/09/2003 By Pauline Almeida

THE National House Buyers Association (HBA) will appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court's decision on Thursday in which it allowed two housing developers for a judicial review, resulting in awards made by the Tribunal For Homebuyer Claims to be quashed.

"As the Attorney-General intends to appeal against the decision, we will team up with the government lawyers to resident the developers' actions," HBA secretary-general Chang Kim Loong told The Malay Mail when contacted yesterday.

"This is a landmark case and we want to set a precedent to give protection to all house buyers." Chang also said that if the tribunal is only accessible to house buyers who signed their sale and purchase agreement (S&P) on or after Dec 1, 2002, then it would not see any action until problems surfaced with S&P signed after it's set-up.

"Please be mindful that a majority of the complaints only crop up after the scheduled date of completion, that is, either 24 or 36 months," he said.

In the meantime, said Chang, there are thousands of aggrieved house buyers who are now unable to seek redress through the tribunal due to financial constraints after having used up their savings on their house purchase.

"This group places high hopes on the tribunal to hear their cases. Now that they have been denied, we urge the Ministry of Housing and Local Government to amend the amended law to give it certainty in expressed words evincing that the relevant provisions are to have retrospective effect and accept all cases regardless of when the sale and purchase agreement was signed," he said.

Chang said house buyers at large now feel shortchanged not only by errant developers but ironically by the Ministry as well.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca) said there is still hope for house buyers making claims for late delivery or even damages before Dec 1 last year, when the Tribunal For Homebuyer Claims was formed.

Fomca president Datuk Hamdan Adnan said the house buyers could still appeal under the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry's Trade Description Act 1976, which stipulates that if a product is not in accordance with the description as advertised or promised, the buyers could still fight for their rights.

"This Act should be able to assist buyers with such problems," said Hamdan when contacted yesterday.

"But the buyers will have to still refer to their Sale & Purchase (S&P) Agreement to be better informed of what it entails." On Thursday, the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled that the Tribunal For Homebuyer Claims had no jurisdiction to hear and decide cases in which the S&P was entered before Dec 1, 2002 when the tribunal was established.

It was reported that Puncakdana Sdn Bhd had sought orders to quash the awards given to six of the 50 housebuyers who had complained to the tribunal of late delivery of their houses and failure to complete the common facilities.

The company's application was heard together with another similar application by Westcourt Corp Sdn Bhd against the tribunal and two house buyers as a test case.

Another developer, Fadason Holdings Sdn Bhd, has also applied for judicial review against the tribunal and 39 house buyers and hearing has been fixed in the same court.

In their applications, Puncakdana and Westcourt claimed that the Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Act 1966 does not expressly provide for the retrospective effect.

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