Housing Developers Act: Further amendments needed to effectively protect house buyers' interest

Press Statement
Kerk Kim Hock

(Petaling Jaya, Monday):  The Housing Developers (Control and Licensing) (Amendment) Act 2001 has finally come into effect yesterday after Parliament debated the amendments about 12 months ago. No explanation was given for such long delay.

The Housing Minister Datuk Ong Ka Ting has said that the amended Act was passed by Parliament and had taken into consideration of all views and the amendments were therefore fair and just to all parties.

This is not true unless Ong was talking into the context that Parliament was just a law legitimizing place and not a law-making place.

I call on the Housing Minister to consider further amending the Act by taking into consideration criticisms of the Bill which surfaced when it was presented for debate in the Parliament last year.

DAP MP for Bukit Bintang Sdr Fong Kui Lun, MP for Seputeh Sdri Teresa Kok and I had taken part in the debate and put up our views which would better protect the housebuyers interest.

We believe that the laws must be fair to both sides, the developers and the house buyers. However, it is a fact that since Independence, the buyers have always been at the losing end due to the weakness, inadequacy and loopholes of the Housing Developers Act.

As such, the Minister must not ignore the DAP views ..

An example of the weakness, which I had then raised when debating on the bill, related to new Section 8 A.

This new provision states that a licenced housing developer may apply to the Minister for approval to terminate all the sale and purchase agreements agreed into in respect of a housing development or any phase of a housing development which the housing developer is engaged in, carries on or undertakes or causes to be undertaken if-

1.. Six months after the execution of the sale and purchase agreements, development of the housing accommodation in that housing development or phase has not commenced; and
2.. At least seventy percent of all the purchasers who have entered into the sale and purchase agreements have agreed with the housing developer in writing to terminate the sale and purchase agreements

The two questions which the DAP had asked and which received no satisfactory reply from the Housing Minister were:

1.. Why is it that only the developer may apply to have the sale and purchase agreement terminated but the house buyers do not have such a similar right?
2.. Why is it that when the housing developer is directed to refund all moneys to the purchasers within the period sated in the Minister's approval, the refund is free of interest?

I also wish to express my regret that when making amendments to schedule G (Standard Sale and Purchase agreement (Land and Building) and Schedule H (Standard Sale and Purchase agreement (Subdivided Building), views were not sought from DAP Members of Parliament who had shown keen interest in the Housing Developer Act.

It is also regretted that although the amendments have taken effect since yesterday, the government printers are still unable to supply legal firms with the amended Schedules.

All legal firms therefore have to stop carrying out any transaction involving sale and purchase of residential properties simply because they do not have the amended standard sale and purchase agreement.

Although after checking with the Housing Ministry, I was told that the amended Schedule G and H are available on the ministry's website, the question which arises is that why when the Minister has announced that the amended regulations will take effect on 1.12.2002, government printers are still not ready to distribute amended rules to the legal firms?


* Kerk Kim Hock, DAP Secretary General & MP for Kota Melaka