PETALING JAYA (Oct 15): The Malaysian Institute of Property and Facility Managers (MIPFM) foresees various problems arising from the implementation of a recent court ruling for a flat rate maintenance fee for mixed-use properties.

"It may cause chaotic situations for property management. For one, the number of defaulters might start to rise," said MIPFM president Adzman Shah Mohd Ariffin at a media conference today.

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Landmark court decision: Charge according to fixed formula for all in mixed-use property

"With the confusion caused by this recent ruling, occupants might delay their maintenance fee payments, subsequently affecting the management of the building," he said. 

Hence, he added that the Housing and Local Government (KPKT) Minister should react fast to the court ruling to provide clarity.

"MIPFM wishes to urge the custodian of the act, the KPKT, to quickly look into the matter," Azman said.

While the Grounds of Judgement has not been released, MIPFM is concerned about the collection of maintenance fees in the interim.

"If the Strata Management Act is to be amended, it needs to go through Parliament (and that will take time," he said.

Also at the press conference were representatives from the National House Buyers Association (HBA), the Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector Malaysia (PEPS) and the Royal Institution of Surveyors Malaysia (RISM).

An Oct 4 ruling by the Court of Appeal held that Joint Management Body (JMB) committees cannot charge different rates on property owners in a mixed development, overturning a High Court decision that JMB has the power under the Strata Management Act to determine or fix different rates of service or maintenance charges for different parcels in a mixed development.

The ruling implies that residents in high-rise buildings that do not have strata titles yet, where there are also offices and retail lots, will have to pay service or maintenance charges according to a fixed formula following the landmark court decision.

"This will also be unfair for instance to owners who own the affordable housing units in a development project that also has a high-end phase that provides facilities and amenities that are not accessible to the affordable housing residents," Adzman cites as an example.

HBA Sec Gen Datuk Chang Kim Loong (represented by Wong Kok Soo) said due to the great diversity and complications in mixed-use strata developments in Malaysia, one uniform rate of maintenance charges will not be applicable equally to all the different types of strata properties.

"The maxim is true here that one size does not fit all," he said.

"Hence, HBA supports the different rates of maintenance charges for mixed-use strata developments where they are based on the fair principle of an owner paying for what he is entitled to use and vice-versa.

"HBA gives full support of the position taken by MIPFM that it is fair and justifiable to have different rates of maintenance charges by JMB for mixed-use strata developments due to the great diversity and complications in the mixed-use strata developments," he added.

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