Housing Revival Initiative launched (Sept 11, 2009)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Housing and Local Government Ministry launched a new initiative called the Housing Revival Initiative (HRI) today. The initiative is aimed at tackling the problem of abandoned housing projects.

Records show that there are currently 136 abandoned housing projects throughout the country. Even though the number accounts for only 2% of housing developments in the country, it still affects 30,576 house buyers who have to bear the financial burden of having to make payments for houses they cannot occupy.

The Housing and Local Government Ministry has been entrusted with the task of spearheading the effort to resolve this issue. The authorities have established the Special Task Force (STF) to Revive Abandoned Housing Projects, which comprises important players and professionals in various sectors of the housing industry and chaired by the Chief Secretary to the Government. The launching of the Housing Revival Initiative is one of the measures conceived by the STF. The ministry will act as the primary mediator.

Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said corporations should be encouraged to undertake the revival of abandoned housing projects and proposed that revived projects should be named after the corporate group responsible for its completion. He also welcomed suggestions and proposals from the industry.

Among the issues raised during the open dialogue session at the launch was the monitoring and enforcement of the existing laws. Chang Kim Loong, National Housebuyers Association (HBA) honorary secretary-general said stricter monitoring and enforcement will go a long way to curb the problem of abandoned projects. He also pressed the ministry to push for the build-then-sell (BTS) system that was first introduced in April 2007, stressing that this system will ensure minimal risk for house buyers and while making the revival process easier.

The ministry is currently studying the many variants of the BTS system to assess its suitability and practicality. Also in the pipeline is an insurance scheme aimed at protecting house buyers against failed housing projects and the National Housing Policy.
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