GEORGE TOWN (Aug 2): The Penang government is proposing a rent control policy for pre-war buildings after numerous complaints from business operators in the George Town Unesco World Heritage Site over excessive rental hikes, Bernama reported today.

"We are seeing an unnatural increase of rental at [the] George Town Unesco site and the tenants had been complaining that they had suffered more than 500% hike in rental for several years, which had forced them out, leaving their business," State Housing and Town and Country Planning committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo told a press conference here today.

Bernama also reported Jagdeep saying that this was the first time such a proposal has been brought up for consideration.

"Currently, we only know that many [tenants] had left but we do not have the actual statistics to back up the idea which we needed the most to enforce the Rent Control Act 1997," Jagdeep said.

He said the state will therefore seek out suggestions, views and reactions of local stakeholders and the private property industry at the Penang International Property Conference this Friday.

Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng has said a few weeks ago that the state government is considering the reintroduction of rent control to curb rising rents of heritage properties.

According to Lim, the move would stop the gentrification that was driving locals away from pre-war houses in the core and buffer zones of the island’s heritage site.

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