The government should adopt the suggestion of Bukit Gasing Assemblyman Rajiv Rishyakaran and handle the maintenance of low-cost housing projects to ensure that they remain clean and safe, said the National House Buyers Association (HBA).
The house buyers’ group urged the government to set up its own management department with competent building officers and managers that would manage and maintain the low-cost flats and not outsource the task to third party management firms, reported Free Malaysia Today (FMT).
HBA Secretary-General Datuk Chang Kim Loong believes that outsourcing the task will “inadvertently breed corrupt practices and siphon away the limited funds available for the actual management and maintenance of the low-cost flats”.
Rajiv said the lack of concern and attention by the government to this problem led to low-cost homeowners living in slum-like conditions.
With the government taking over the maintenance of low-cost homes, residents will have a decent standard of living while maintaining their dignity, he said.
He pointed that Putrajaya could do this by calling for open tenders to hire maintenance firms, ensuring that they are held accountable for services provided.
Chang, however, noted that it was not the first time such suggestion was raised.
The government had agreed to take over the management of low-cost homes some years ago but did not implement it, he added.
Back in 2010, during the Strata Management Act’s (SMA) drafting, a representative of the Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector Malaysia (PEPS) urged the government to manage and maintain the country’s low-cost homes before they deteriorate and turn into urban slums.
The Housing and Local Government Ministry (KPKT) had then agreed that the Valuation and Property Services Department (JPPH) would set up a task force to maintain and manage all low-cost flats within the country.
“JPPH then set up a sub-committee to prepare the budget, structure and plan for the task ahead to manage and maintain all low-cost flats in the country,” said Chang as quoted by FMT.
“The government announced at the time that it would set aside a few million ringgit to rehabilitate some of the low-cost flats. From what we understand, the ministry then took over the funds but somehow JPPH was left out in the cold,” he noted.
“We do not know what happened to the funds but the low-cost flats have indeed continued to deteriorate into present-day slums.”
Although the slum-like environment within low-cost housing areas had been a long-standing issue, Chang said the situation had been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The majority of low-cost residents are low-wage earners who feed themselves and their families from hand to mouth. Hence, many of them are not able to pay the maintenance charges for proper management and maintenance of the common property in their own low-cost strata scheme,” he said.
“Also, most of these low-cost flats lack capable joint management committees (JMC) and management committees (MC) which have the necessary skill sets to carry proper management and maintenance of the common property in their respective strata schemes.”
“These owners also have to put food on the table and may not have time to serve on the JMC and MC on a voluntary basis.”
Apart from taking over the maintenance, the government should also put in place measures aimed at ensuring the well-being of low-cost housing residents, said Chang.
These include setting up police booths, mobile clinics, tuition centres and mobile libraries as well as the reduction of utility rates.
“The government must come up with programmes to take them out from the slums, or at the very least, make it so for the next generation, that is the children in these households,” said Chang.