Malaysia has moved forward in terms of community living within jointly owned (strata titled) properties. Many of such properties are now owner managed, as a result of the Act 663, 2007.
However, there is still much to be learnt by owners in terms ofcommon property management. Most would have little or no experiences and thus rely very much on their own intuition as well as sharing and learning from each other. Even government agencies and even NGOs, are struggling along though they may have the best intent.
So, with such limitations, we have little choice but to learn and observe from those with more of such experiences. Hong Kong, Macao, China and nearer to home, Singapore are good places to start.
From my own personal experiences and observations in these countries, one major issue strikes home loud and clear. It is the level of collection of the monthly management fee. In these communities, owners find it to be their responsibility to pay their monthly fees on time, every month; and they do so. Collections are generally over the 80% levels; with very few defaulters. Thus maintenance of these places remains healthy even though many of these properrties are very very old.
I believe that even in Malaysia, this is very true. If we look at the better managed properties, we would note that their collections are indeed high.
Therefore, one of the major steps that we need to take is to “educate” the owners and residents of these properties. We must teach all of us, the importance and necessity of prompt and regular payment of Maintenance Fees. Education cannot be done overnight, but it must start and be continuous.
These education programmes must be done jointly by the local JMB / MC as well as the local councils and on a larger scale even by the Ministry of Housing, perhaps through the Mass Media.
Why must the government be involved in these private properties? If these properties are not properly managed, they would in the not too long distance, turn into eye-sores and become a social burden. We do not need to wait until such a time to act. Prevention is always better than cure.
As part of the education process, all owners and residents must be aware of the costs of running and maintaining their property. JMB /MC must be transparent in showing costs details; and perhaps even to explain what happens if and when certain jobs cannot be done due to lack of funds. It is through these frank and open information, that we can all learn and be made to realise the importance of our roles and responsibilities.
JMB / MC cannot wait for the governemnt to take the first step. I believe it is their responsibility to start these education programmes; and what better time than now! Meanwhile, local councils and the Ministry must begin to budget for these educational programmes and perhaps even start conducting training and education road-shows. The training includes interpretation of accounts, office and account management and even simple things like how to conduct meetings for JMB / MC as well as communication skills.
As we face the realities of a worldwide economic slowdown and recession, there cannot be a better time than now to begin this long journey. Most people would probably have more time to spend at home due either to lack of work or for reasons of costs savings. Thus, this is the best time to communicate to and educate your fellow owners and neighbours. JMB / MC, take that first step now.
Therefore, I highly recommend JMB / MC to start giving this matter serious consideration. I would like to take this opportunity to remind all of us that the success of running and maintaining our common properties can only come about guided by transparency, responsibility and accountability.
Education is of course only one area. On the next article, I will discuss other areas that we need to look at in order to move forward in Common Property Management.
I welcome comments and suggestions on other areas and issues that can be covered.