KUALA LUMPUR, 8 MAY, 2010: In the seven years since it was set up, the Tribunal for Homebuyers Claims has been flooded with nearly 4,000 cases annually, or an average of 10 complaints daily, from disgruntled purchasers.
Up till last year, the tribunal under the housing and local government ministry, resolved 93.7 per cent of the 27,277 cases, with compensation totalling almost RM400 million.
"Complainants received between RM10,000 and RM15,000 from developers, mostly for late delivery," tribunal deputy chairman Pretam Singh told Bernama in an interview.
The tribunal handles cases worth less than RM50,000. Those seeking more would need to file legal action.
Pretam Singh said housebuyers in Selangor topped the claims list by far, numbering 16,425 in the past seven years, followed by Kuala Lumpur (2,840) and Penang (1,804).
None were received from Perlis and Terengganu.
He said, for a RM10 fee, one may file a claim with the tribunal for losses incurred, or any matter concerning a person's interest as homebuyer.
The tribunal will not accept cases currently being contested in court. However, disputes decided by the tribunal can be referred to the courts by the parties involved.
The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) too, receives over 2,000 complaints every year from dissatisfied home purchasers, also for late delivery and shoddy workmanship, through its national consumer complaints
“Leakage, cracks, unsafe wiring and crumbled cement are major complaints that we received and this must be resolved during the 18-month period after delivery,” said Fomca secretary-general Muhammad Sha’ani Abdullah.
Housebuyers too, have lodged grouses of developers wanting booking fees before the sales and purchase agreement was signed which, he said, was against the Housing Development Act.
Another source of unhappiness is misleading advertisements of free automated gates, cabinets or furnishings.
“Many buyers air their grievances of being taken advantage of, by the developers when they get a shock after getting their keys,” he added.
Lawyer Chang Kim Loong, secretary-general of the National House Buyers Association, said housing developers were not allowed to impose booking fees.
"Potential buyers must be aware of this and only get your 10 percent payment ready when the buyer is sure of purchasing," he said.
Chang reminded purchasers that they should not use the same lawyer as that of the developer.
Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association Malaysia (Rehda) president Datuk Ng Seing Liong hoped the government would approve a Redha-proposed fund to to assist housebuyers in the event of abandoned projects.
"It is hoped the fund could be realised to protect housebuyers in the event their homes are not completed, or abandoned," he told Bernama.
Redha had suggeted that all housing developers in the country contribute 0.25 or 0.5 per cent of the value of their projects to the fund.
He said in the past 20 years, 1.5 per cent of 148 housing projects were stalled due to reasons such as cash flow problems, lack of sales and improper management.
Home buyers can approach the tribunal claims only in completed projects. "If the projects are abandoned, they cannot file claims with the tribunal", he added.
The website for the tribunal is at www.kpkt.gov.my/tribunal.