Many of you living in apartments, condominiums, town houses and SOHO (small office home office) would probably be familiar with the term ‘strata’. We read and hear of terms such as ‘strata title’ and ‘strata properties’. The word ‘strata’ is actually the plural word for ‘stratum’, which according to most dictionaries such as the Cambridge Dictionary can mean ‘one of the parts or layers into which something is separated’.
In Malaysia, ‘strata’ generally refers to individual units of your homes within multiple levels of floors of your high or low-rise properties, which are constructed upwards i.e. vertically. Strata properties can also be within horizontal layers within gated and guarded communities where the facilities form part of the common areas mutually shared by all the residents of a housing development.
HBA’s efforts to simplify strata legislations for easy reading
In Malaysia, the laws regulating strata properties are; i) the Strata Management Act 2013; ii) Strata Management (Maintenance & Management) Regulations 2015 and; iii) Strata Management (Strata Management Tribunal) Regulations 2015 which came into force on 1 June 2015. These sets of strata legislations affect anyone and everyone who stays or owns any type of strata properties of both residential and commercial category.
When these strata legislations were implemented, we had a tough time trying to understand the legal language in these statues. Running into a couple of hundreds of pages of laws and regulations, the strata legislations pose a challenge even to those legally trained.
We thought that if we had trouble dissecting the meaning, how much more difficult and confusing it must be for a lay person to comprehend lest understand. Even the most aspiring ‘lawyer buruks’ may grit their teeth in agony after ploughing through these voluminous strata legislations which are full of legal and technical jargon.
HBA then decided to rise to the occasion and started writing and publishing articles on these strata legislations in Real Spaces column of The Malay Mail newspaper for the last two years. What HBA did was to simplify the language in these strata legislations and focused on various parts of the strata laws that were relevant to strata properties owners and occupiers alike, individually and as a corporate body within a particular development.
For example, we wrote about water leakages, something all strata property owners dread. Which tenant or owner would like to see large green mouldy patches on their ceiling or live in fear that the plaster ceiling will collapse anytime due to unresolved continuous leaking problems caused by the unit above? What are the rights of these victims of leakages and responsibilities of owners of the unit above that may be causing the leaks? What about Annual General Meetings or Extraordinary Meetings? When is it considered appropriate to call for an EGM or AGM and what is the proper procedure for such meetings? Is name-calling or accusations of any wrongdoing part of the agenda of any meeting? If you are dissatisfied with the committee members of your development or you suspect there is some kind of irregularity in the management accounts, what can you do?
HBA even dissected technical jargon such as technical speak such as SiFUS (Certificate of Share Unit Formula) and explained its relevance to its readers.
HBA’s vision and mission
While HBA is more than happy to continue educating its readers and members of the public on current property issues through its weekly articles, HBA feels that after more than two years of strenuous writing, it is timely to compile these articles on strata properties and legislations into a single volume.
The great winds of change are blowing into the housing landscape in Malaysia and housing accommodations as we know in the conventional ways are fast fading. No longer can residents or occupiers of any housing (landed and strata) assume that they are the ‘king of their castle’ and therefore unaffected by their external surroundings.
Due to the interconnectivity between housing units, it is imperative that owners, occupiers and anyone who is planning to live in a strata property know the boundaries, structures and dynamics of a strata living concept so that mutual harmony and respect can be preserved within a strata housing community.
The starting point for HBA’s journey into publishing its book on strata legislations took place a month ago. Our book entitled “HBA’s INSIGHT INTO THE STRATA LEGISLATIONS” (“Insight”) was launched by the Yang DiPertua and Commissioner of Buildings (COB) of Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ), Puan Hjh Noraini bt Roslan who had generously contributed to the seed fund in starting the initial publication of Insight in the form of a Coffee Table Journal.
HBA strongly feels that ‘Insight’ can be of great help to anyone and everyone who wishes to understand the length and breadth of these complex strata legislations in easy readable language. Insight covers a wide range of topics, which makes information available at the reader’s fingertips.
Also, HBA, through Insight hopes to continue with its quest of educating owners and occupiers as well to empower them through knowledge to assert their legal rights or to create a more beneficial structured housing community within each strata development through mutual respect of boundaries.
Insight book is relevant and suitable for any member of the public, property managers, executives, members of any joint management bodies andmanagement committees or just about anyone who has a desire to understand strata property laws in Malaysia. Insight is also designed to provide valuable information before one embarks on buying into strata living concept. It is also to educate them to be aware of their rights and obligations in a strata community and their role in sharing responsibilities.
The HBA INSIGHT publication fund
As much as HBA is deeply convinced that Insight will be a useful publication, HBA does not have the resources to publish Insight. HBA does not receive any financial grant from the government or any third parties or corporations. Whatever meagre sums generated by HBA’s own members is used solely for the purpose of sustaining HBA’s operations and activities.
HBA is manned wholly by volunteers from all walks of life who themselves have careers, financial commitments and families of their own but have chosen to unselfishly dedicate their time to champion the rights of house buyers (past, present and future) and lend a voice to the homeless.
HBA in its current state continues to be an independent non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation. In this form, we are able to maintain our independence and champion the rights of buyers without fear or favour.There is no hidden agenda. Such are the tenets of a purely voluntary organisation such as ours.
Through HBA’s internal fund raising efforts, we managed to raise RM2,000 for cost of typesetting and formatting. HBA needs about RM29,500 to reach its goal of printing 2000 copies of Insight. Through the publication of Insight, HBA hopes to disseminate useful information on strata legislations and at the same time, any profits earned from the sale of Insight will be ploughed back to HBA’s slim coffers so that we can continue to advance worthy causes and taking on public interest litigation on a pro bono (free legal fees) basis.
If there is any spare change left, HBA hopes to share Insight with its fellow owners and occupiers of strata properties in Sabah and Sarawak so that they too can benefit from the informative articles in Insight.
This article was originally contributed by Datuk Chang Kim Loong of The National House Buyers Association to the Real Spaces team and edited by Gunaprasath Bupalan.It was originally published in Real Spaces Malay Mail on 8th August 2018.