Owners, never underestimate your power

So, you own a strata property. You may not be in the Joint Management Body (JMB) or Management Corporation (MC) but you can have a say in the decision-making process of the management by voicing your concerns, grievances and suggestions through an annual general meeting (AGM) or an extraordinary general meeting (EGM).

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Real Estate & Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia (REHDA) deputy president, Datuk NK Tong advises: “Always show up at your AGMs and EGMs. Don’t think that, I am just one parcel owner, I don’t have any say in the decisions made. Even if you are the only person going against the decision made, go and make your point if you feel that the decision made is not in the best interest of the homeowners. It just takes one responsible owner to stand up for something to be done right.

“Even better, read the minutes of the previous meetings beforehand. These should be made available and be transparent for all. Hence, when you show up for your meetings, you know what is really going on.

“The committee board can say, we’ve done a great job so far. But if you feel – hey, why the money spent refurbishing the court was so much higher than what was previously quoted, here is the public avenue where such questions can be asked and you have the right to do so. And these questions asked are footprints that are left behind because they are minuted and so, (even) five years thereon, homeowners can still have access to them,” adds Tong.

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Chur Associates’ founder and managing partner Chris Tan concurs with Tong, adding that residents can also pay attention to the notices posted by the management and always question if such activities have been approved by the committee within the budget.

“Ultimately, monies paid to the JMB or MC is supposed to be kept and utilised for the sole purpose of maintaining the building. Nothing more,” emphasises Tan.

“If you are unable to make it for the meetings, do not simply forgo your rights without making an effort to find a proxy. You may appoint anyone who is 18 and above to represent you by filling up the prescribed proxy form. Make sure the form is submitted not later than 48 hours before the general meeting, or it will be invalid.

“A proxy holder can participate in the meeting with full voting rights but cannot be elected as office bearer. Only a proxy who is an official representative of a unit owned by an organisation can hold office,” adds Tan.

Both Tong and Tan are in the judging panel of the EdgeProp Malaysia’s Best Managed & Sustainable Property Awards 2021 that recognises real estate that is sustainable and managed with excellence.

Love thy neighbour

In communal living, Chur Associates’ Tan says it all boils down to knowing your neighbour and genuinely reaching out for a meaningful engagement.

“Take part in the community activities. Make use of the facilities. If you don’t enjoy your own backyard, how can you take care of it? Set up a community watchdog group among the owners to act as a check and balance against the conduct of the management body.

“One possible way is to create a chat group on WhatsApp and communicate among everyone. In any community, participation is paramount and if there is no concern about how the JMB or MC is running, then bad things could happen. So, if everyone participates and inputs their concerns, then the community will be able to benefit from a well-run JMB or MC,” says Tan.

Tan also favours the setting up of a resident committee to act as a watchdog to ensure better governance and compliance. 

Towards this end, Tan says residents should consider engaging with and leveraging the expertise of those staying within the strata community.

“For example, if there is a practising accountant within the strata community, task that person to run through the audited account and the bookkeeping practices of the management body,” Tan suggests.

The duties of the JMB and MC under the SMA 2013 include the following but are not limited to:

a to properly maintain and manage the building or land intended for subdivision into parcels and the common property, and keep it in a state of good and serviceable repair;

b to determine and impose the charges to be deposited into the maintenance account for the purpose of the proper maintenance and management of the buildings or lands intended for subdivision into parcels and the common property;

c to determine and impose the contribution to the sinking fund to be deposited into the sinking fund account for the purposes of meeting the actual or expected expenditures specified under subsection 24(2) (for JMB); to determine and impose the contribution to the sinking fund to be deposited into the sinking fund account for the purposes of meeting the actual or expected expenditure specified under subsection 51 (2);

d to effect insurance according to this Act or to insure against such other risks as the parcel owners may by special resolution direct;

e to comply with any notice or order given or made by the local authority or any competent public authority requiring the abatement of any nuisance on the common property, or ordering repairs or other work to be done in respect of the common property or other improvements to the common property.

The powers of the JMB or MC under the SMA 2013 include the following but are not limited to:

a to collect the charges from the parcel owners in proportion to the allocated share units of their respective parcels (for JMB) or provisional blocks (for MC);

b to collect the contribution to the sinking fund from the parcel owners (for JMB); to collect the contribution to the sinking fund from the proprietors of an amount equivalent to 10% of the charges (for MC);

c to authorise expenditure for the carrying out of the maintenance and management of the buildings or lands intended for subdivision into parcels and the common property;

d to recover from any parcel owner any sum expended by the JMB in respect of that parcel in complying with any such notice or order as referred to in paragraph (1)(e); 

e to purchase, hire or otherwise acquire moveable property for use by the parcel owners in connection with their enjoyment of the common property

Main functions of the COB

a Monitor the filing and review the Schedule of Plots and share units allocated for new/old development areas (if applicable) by the Developer/JMB.

b Monitor the establishment of JMB for the first time through the filing of a notice on the intention of the developer to hand over vacant possession.

c Monitor the establishment of MC for the first time after the expiration of the initial period that at least one quarter of the aggregate share units have been transferred.

d Provide advisory services and monitor the progress of a further general meeting held by JMB/MC.

e Provide advisory services on legal/accounting /technical/management/maintenance issues involving the Developer/JMB/MC and act as a “mediator” if necessary.

f Monitor the filing of audited accounts that are certified true by the Developer/JMB/MC.

g Monitor technical complaints/damage involving the Developer/JMB/MC/buyer/owner.

h Make appointments and monitor management agents by COB.

i Implement enforcement actions.

j Process sworn applications for detention warrants by Developer/JMB/MC.

k Make a review of the Additional By-laws filed by the Developer/JMB/MC.

l Update the property register involving JMB/MC.

m Implement training, programmes and activities involving COB/JMB/MC/buyers/owners.

n Provide guidelines/SOP to JMB/MC/buyer/owner.

o Provide JMB/MC data search services (*subject to the approval of the Head/Deputy Head of COB Division). Each search will be charged a search fee.

This story first appeared in the E-weekly on May 28, 2021. You can access back issues here.

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