Friday, May 30, 2008

Local councils told to buck up - The Star

May 30, 2008 By LIM CHIA YING

THE local authorities in Selangor have been urged to buck up and be more responsible in monitoring housing projects.

Subang Jaya assemblyman Hannah Yeoh said the local councils must also bear responsibility for a developer’s irresponsible actions that caused financial losses and suffering to buyers.

Yeoh: Most developers are not involved in just one project.

According to Yeoh, many developers are taking advantage of loopholes in the existing laws to escape accountability when winding up their companies or abandoning projects.

“It should be the local council’s responsibility to closely monitor a project by site visits and checks on the work. The local authorities should take action against a developer immediately if there are irregularities in the project,” Yeoh said.

“The council should be looking after the welfare of the people,” she said.

Yeoh was commenting on the case of the Mutiara Court apartment project in PJS 7 Bandar Sunway, whose developer Westcourt Corp Sdn Bhd was wound up in 2007.

The controversy surrounding the project was brought to light when certificates of fitness for occupation (CFs) were issued despite the fact that no water supply and electricity connection had been installed.

The project is a middle-cost development comprising 232 units launched in 2002.

According to Selangor State Local Government Committee chairman Ronnie Liu, the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) had issued the CFs following the implementation of the one-stop-centre (OSC) system.

“After the OSC was introduced, the MPSJ did not have to visit and check on the project, but left it to the developer to deal directly with Tenaga Nasional Bhd and Syabas for electricity and water,” Liu said.

“The OSC scheme was meant to speed up the issuance of the CFs,” he said.

Yeoh, however, insisted that the local authorities should check that everything was in order before authorising the issuing of a CF.

She said that when a CF was issued, it meant that the place had been certified fit for occupation and that everything was in place.

Yeoh said it was time for the local authorities to be stricter with developers.

“Most developers are not involved in just one project, but have other development schemes.

“The local authorities should check their previous records before giving approvals and licences for subsequent projects,” Yeoh said.

She said that if a developer was found to have abandoned a previous project or violated any law, it should be blacklisted and denied approval for subsequent projects.

She said that there were housing development companies that just closed before completing their projects, leaving the buyers of the projects in a financial lurch.

“The purchasers may not even get to claim the last 5% of payment held by the lawyer and shareholders that is reserved for claims during the defect period since many creditors are queuing up for the same pool of money,” she said.

Liu admitted that such cases happened due to the easy certifications by the local councils.

“The state will ensure that the local councils will closely monitor the development projects from now on. The local authorities should be more careful when issuing CFs or giving approvals,” he said.

“I’ll work with all council presidents to make the necessary changes and revise the existing guidelines that are deemed not good,” Liu said.

“We urge the people to give us their views and suggestions on how to make improvements and make changes to tackle such problems,” he said.

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