Monday October 29, 2012
Developer sneaks away leaving 100 apartment owners in a bind
By VANES DEVINDRAN
KUCHING: It was one shock after another.
First they were served a notice that the developer had surrendered all management responsibilities.
Soon after, they discovered that their monthly water bill payments never reached the Kuching Water Board (KWB).
Since then, problems kept pilling up for the residents of the apartments at Jalan Stephen Yong here.
It now appears that the residents have become part of the statistics on victims of unscrupulous housing developers.
Since moving into the apartment in 2005, the residents have been struck by several irregularities ranging from their sales and purchase agreement and strata title applications to paying management fees and water bills.
In a dialogue session chaired by Padawan Municipal Council chairman Lo Khere Chiang yesterday, the residents voiced their frustration.
Their spokesman Peter Ng said trouble cropped up in April last year when the residents were served a notice by the developer that it would no longer handle the management of the apartment.
“We were caught off guard and soon after that more problems started flooding in like the unpaid water bill although we have paid for it to the developer.
“You see we don’t have individual water meter so we paid to the developer which would make payment to KWB.
“So imagine our shock when we discovered that we are owing KWB some RM20,000 in arrears.
“It means that the developer had never made payment. And now when we want to pay our monthly bill, KWB is demanding that we settle our outstanding bill in full first,” he said.
He said they could have lived in darkness too, if they had paid their electricity bills through the developer.
Fortunately, he said, the residents had individual power meters so they had been dealing with Sesco directly.
Still their worry is that the lighting in the staircase area of the apartments may soon be disconnected because the light there had a separate meter that was handled by the developer, he said.
He also said that their other worry was the fact that the developer had not fulfilled certain conditions to allow for the processing of the apartments’ strata title applications.
Ng claimed that the developer had failed to handle the sinking fund to the government, and possibly other documentations as well.
He also lamented that the Sales and Purchase Agreement had been drawn in such a way that for owners to sell their units, they needed the developer’s consent.
Ng said what puzzled some residents was that despite this clause, some owners had managed to sell their units.
He said they had a lot to clear with the developer but their problem was that the developer could not be reached.
“We were told the company no longer exists and we cannot even contact the head. He has dissapeared. So how do we go about this?
“When we approached the legal firm dealing with the developer, the firm said it no longer represented the developer,” he said.
The Star attempted to call the developer’s number but the calls went unanswered.
Land owner Hilarion Bisi Jinggot, on whose land the apartments were developed , claimed he had agreed for the apartments to be built on his 5-acre piece and also allowed for the land to be mortgaged for RM3mil, to be paid in stages.
He said the developer had agreed to allocate 15% of the total 127 units of apartment to him.
He said 10 single-storey units were also built next to the apartments and that from those units he was supposed to get a corner lot.
He said he was never given the promised unit.
In fact, he said, the developer had mortgaged some and sold the rest of the units plus the one supposed to be given to him.
“What I don’t get is that I had actually put a caveat over the parent title and so any transaction should have gone through me first, but the developer still managed to get around this. I don’t know how he did it,” said Hilarion.
He said he instituted a suit against the developer sometime ago and won.
He said his lawyers were sorting things out now, after which he would give his consent for the strata title to be given out.
Ng was quick to add though that unit owners would still need to go back to the developer as the Sales and Purchase Agreement was done through him.
Lo advised residents to get together and be part of an apartments residents’ management association that had been formed by Ng and fellow residents so that they could fight with one voice.
“You need to get organised first, then we can pursue the matter.
“On the council’s side, we can help you get in touch with the relevant authorities.
“It’s obvious that the developer has been irresponsible in fulfiling its obligation,” he said.
It is learnt that the residents are contemplating suing the developer and in the midst of how to raise RM36,000 in legal expenses.
Lo said he and the committee members would soon be meeting with some legal experts for advice and how best to go about the matter.