NON-STRATA RESIDENTIAL CATEGORY — SILVER
WHEN Duta Nusantara won the Silver award in TheEdgeProperty.com Malaysia’s Best Managed Property Awards 2017 for the non-strata residential category, it attested to the strong leadership by the homeowners’ association, complemented by the hard work from the property manager.
The 10-year-old landed residential development located in Jalan Sri Hartamas 1, Kuala Lumpur is jointly managed by Henry Butcher Malaysia (Mont’Kiara) Sdn Bhd’s building management team led by Joseph Chan, and DN Homeowners Bhd which is helmed by the chairman, Andy Khoo Boo Teik. The partnership began two years ago and both have discovered that a shared vision is crucial in ensuring the success of a residential management.
“Our vision is simple. We want to ensure this place is run well, safely protected and kept on trend. We don’t want Duta Nusantara to be just a shell, but a home to our residents who have come from around the world. We hope people stay here not just because of the facilities and location, but because they can find a sense of home that no other place can provide,” Khoo stresses.
Being one of the first high-end landed residential developments in the vicinity, the 35-acre Duta Nusantara comprises 42 bungalows and 136 semi-dees with built-ups ranging from 3,690 sq ft to 6,530 sq ft. It is about 90% occupied, with about half by owner-occupiers while the rest are rented to locals, expats from UK, US, India and France.
Developed by S P Setia Bhd and completed about 10 years ago, the Balinese resort-style development is equipped with a wide range of facilities, such as a swimming pool, tennis court, function hall, meeting room, green pocket park, gymnasium and BBQ pit.
Over the past two years since the project’s developer handed over its management to the owners, the board of directors and the property manager have kept the project in good condition and have constantly upgraded the facilities and amenities for the comfort of its residents.
“As one of the board of directors and residents, it is nice to know that Duta Nusantara is recognised as one of the best managed landed residential projects in the nation. It will certainly encourage the team to do even better in future,” says Khoo.
Support and trust
Meanwhile, Chan attributes the recognition to the support from the board of directors. “As the property management team hired by the board, the daily management work and upgrading plans will not be carried out efficiently without the support from the board.”
He adds that the management team is given almost a free hand to run the place. “It is about the trust between both parties. While we are entrusted with making daily management decisions, we keep the board posted on issues and suggestions in our weekly and monthly reports,” Chan shares.
Khoo wholly agrees that trust is the key to a successful working relationship between the property management and board of directors.
“We need to have a trustable and disciplined property management team because we [the board of directors] do not directly control daily management tasks. We need the team to coordinate with third party service providers to keep the area running smoothly every day,” says Khoo.
The initial hurdles
When S P Setia decided to pass on the property management after eight years of serving the project since it was delivered in 2007, the board of directors had appointed Henry Butcher as the property management service provider for Duta Nusantara.
However, the initial adjustment period was not without any hitches, Khoo discloses. “Henry Butcher has an established property management system. However, Duta Nusantara, being an eight-year-old property then, already had our own standard operating procedure and system, which the residents were happy with. Rather than overhauling the existing system, we needed a team to manage the property our way,” Khoo recounts.
This led to a number of manager replacements from Henry Butcher before Khoo invited Chan, who used to work under S P Setia in managing Duta Nusantara until his retirement in 2012, to lead the management team again in July 2015.
“Duta Nusantara is not a new project. We did not need to start all over from scratch. Joseph (Chan) was the one who set up the [management] system in the early days [when he was with S P Setia]. No one understands this project and management system better than him and he had a good track record because he used to work here before his retirement,” Khoo explains.
Armed with his familiarity of Duta Nusantara and knowledge in property management, Chan settled the transitioning issues, recovered lost data and picked up the daily management task, within six months after rejoining the team.
“My task is not to teach the board how to manage the property but to make sure everything runs smoothly as before, while proposing new improvements,” Chan notes.
Some of the major improvements implemented in the past two years were re-tarring a 3km road within Duta Nusantara, refurbishing the swimming pool and water features, as well as revamping the security system.
Moving forward, there will be more enhancements made, such as upgrading the gym and tennis court, pruning trees and beautifying the park, and restoring the rubber flooring at the children’s playground. “The upgrading work will never end as property maintenance work is a cycle,” quips Khoo.
“We are fortunate because S P Setia is a very strong and thoughtful developer. We were given guidelines and schedules of facility maintenance, which spells out the frequency for re-tarring the road, servicing the pool and so on,” Khoo shares.
The greatest challenge
Contrary to general perception, Khoo reveals that neither executing upgrading works nor collecting funds is the greatest challenge in property management.
“The biggest challenge is we can’t please everyone. Some are happy with the upgrading works, while some are reluctant to change. However, our job is to upkeep the property with as little complaints as possible, and try to make the community happy,” Khoo notes.
The property manager has successfully maintained 90% in total fee collection. “Just like other developments, there are some hardcore ones who will drag the payment. However, we have yet to require legal action. Most will settle the bill when we send out the first reminder,” says Chan.
Going beyond the call of duty
Duta Nusantara is located at Jalan Sri Hartamas 1, just a few steps away from Solaris Dutamas and Kompleks Kementerian Dalam Negeri (KDN) Kuala Lumpur.
“There are advantages and disadvantages with this location. We are happy with the convenience provided by the mall nearby but we are also concerned about security,” says Khoo, referring to the late night crowd and traffic.
The junction directly at the development’s entrance is also a cause for concern. “Duta Nusantara is located right opposite KDN and cars are allowed to make u-turns at the junction, at the same point where cars come in and out of the development. There is no restraint to slow down the cars on either side of the roads,” Khoo explains.
The board has written to the local authority to address the issue but has received a negative response. “We are requesting a traffic light, or if that cannot be done, at least a speed bump. However, the local authority thinks it is not appropriate,” Khoo says. “We are still trying to convince the authorities.”
He explains that even though Jalan Sri Hartamas 1 is beyond the Duta Nusantara perimeter, the traffic condition indirectly threatens the safety of residents.
“We go beyond our duties because we want our residents to be safe going out and coming in,” Khoo says, highlighting the commitment of the board of directors and the property management team towards its residents.
S P Setia: Keep sustainability in mind when designing a project
Duta Nusantara and Duta Tropika, the Silver and Bronze winners respectively in the non-strata residental category of TheEdgeProperty.com Malaysia’s Best Managed Property Awards 2017, were developed by one of Malaysia’s top developers, S P Setia Bhd.
Both projects were completed a year from each other and both are located in the same Dutamas vicinity in Kuala Lumpur.
“More than 10 years back, luxury developments with the gated-and-guarded concepts were very limited. Duta Nusantara was designed with 42 units of bungalows in the centre of the master plan surrounded by 136 units of semi-detached homes linked with roads and walkways connected to the beautiful clubhouse,” its deputy president and chief operating officer Datuk Wong Tuck Wai recalls.
There are a total of 11 different designs of these homes in the low-density development to cater to the various tastes and preferences of discerning homebuyers. The lush landscape offers a calming effect for residents while a very effective security system was put in place, allowing its residents to sleep peacefully at night.
“Meanwhile, Duta Tropika is located on a long and narrow strip of land, hence the architect had proposed courtyard villas in the centre of the development sandwiched by garden villas on both sides,” he shares.
Each garden villa features a balcony with white glazing on the top floor which reflects the house light when switched on.
“What makes the homes here even more unique is that an entire floor of each of them is a Master Suite. This development also features a clubhouse with swimming pool, gazebos and a spa pool,” Wong adds.
As a developer, Wong says it is crucial that the sustainability aspect of the development is incorporated from the design stage.
“It is important that good practices are put in place at this juncture as this will serve well for the sustainability of the project even after it is passed on to the joint management body (JMB) or management corporation (MC),” stresses Wong.
“We would like to congratulate the managements of these two projects for winning the awards as a recognition of their efforts.
“We hope both will continue to do their best in maintaining the said properties and to ensure that the value of these properties are protected and appreciated, and that the quality of living continues to be enhanced in the years to come.”
This story first appeared in TheEdgeProperty.com pullout on April 7, 2017. Download TheEdgeProperty.com pullout here for free.