With prices of landed properties being way beyond what an average home buyer can afford in city areas like Kuala Lumpur and Penang, living in apartments or strata homes will be the norm for the future generation of urban homeowners.
‘Pay thy maintenance bills’. This is mentioned in one of the ‘sacred text’ better known as “Strata Management Act”, where it decrees that all strata home owners have to pay their maintenance fee.
So, what’s a maintenance fee, you ask? It is the fee that would be collected from the owners within the strata development to be used for repair, maintenances, security and upkeep work of the common property.
Consider this scenario: You have not paid your maintenance fees for the past six months and the management has been calling you day and night but they have not taken any action against you. You would think that you are invincible since all they can do is to annoy you with phone calls or email reminders.
You thought that the Joint Management Body (JMB) or Management Corporation (MC) (collectively known as the Management) is toothless and unable to do anything to you or your property.
Think again! Let me shed some lights on what can happen to you if you continue to ignore the payment of your maintenance bills.
- Block Your Access to Shared Facilities
The Management is legally able to restrict your rights to using the shared facilities such as gyms, swimming pools and clubhouses. Not only that, they are also allowed to evict you from said facilities if you’re ever caught using them.
But for some, this may not be a problem as you don’t use these facilities anyway. So what else can they do to you?
- Send You Legal Letter of Demand
There is no minimum amount of outstanding fees needed to send a lawyer’s letter of demand. As long as the legal notice remains unpaid after 14 days, the Management can proceed to bring the matter to court which may cost you even more money or may even land you in jail.
- Disable Your Access Pass Card
While they may not be able to chase you out of your dwelling in the interim of any court order, they do however have the right to disable your access pass. This may compel you to enter the compound as a visitor and the inconvenience of registering as a visitor each time you come home.
- Blacklist Your Name on the CCRIS and CTOS
Although you can bear some of the inconveniences, it may hurt you financially when your name appeared as a defaulter in your CCRIS and CTOS credit reports.
Both CCRIS and CTOS show your credit payment ability and all of your financial commitments, which are used by financial institutions to determine your credit worthiness. This would affect your opportunity of getting better financial deals in terms of the quantum and interest rates when applying for a loan or a credit card.
- Having Guards Following You To Your Doorstep
Still not convinced? If you still have not paid for your maintenance fee, the Management has the right to have a security guard follow you around, that is, to your doorstep when you arrive and to your designated car park when you leave the place. This is to prevent you from using any of the shared facilities when you are in the compound.
- Auction Your Personal Belongings
I bet you weren’t expecting this. You haven’t paid your maintenance fee in the past 10 months, and they cannot force you out of your house, and despite making matters difficult for you, you were able to live with the hassle.
Now what if I tell you that by law, they are able to get a warrant to go into your house to take your personal belongings such as your laptop, computer, furniture and even clothes to be auctioned off to pay off your maintenance debt!
In a bid to get defaulters to pay their maintenance fees, the Management can get a warrant to raid and seize the moveable items from their properties with the help from the Commissioner of Building (COB) and the government.
The message is clear – pay your maintenance bills. While some JMB/MC may be quite forgiving and take a more passive approach on delinquent tenants, there are the more aggressive ones who would not hesitate to take such actions.
Living in a community requires each one to play their role to ensure that the whole community benefits. Remember, maintenance fee will always be part of the deal when buying into a stratified development to take care of the development’s common property and services.
Delays in paying your maintenance bills in timely manner will cost you more with interest charges and late payment fee. Therefore, as part of your financial plan, take into consideration this monthly obligation once you have committed to purchasing a strata title home.
Chan Ai Cheng is General Manager of SK Brothers Realty (M) Sdn Bhd, a company in the business of real estate since 1979 in Malaysia.