FORMING a committee or team to oversee the maintenance and cleanliness of low-cost flats is not an easy task, especially when most property owners do not have the capability to do so.
For sole breadwinners, including single mothers, their income may only be enough to cover basic expenses like food.
Others are either uneducated, foreigners renting the units or those who simply do not understand what it means to form a committee.
However, forming either a Joint Management Body (JMB) or a Joint Management Committee (JMC) is vital for flats, apartments, and condominiums.
Residents of this flats are forced to deal with the stench of clogged drains and indiscriminate dumping by their neighbours above.SHAHRUL FAZRY ISMAIL / THE STAR Down in the dumps: Residents of this flats are forced to deal with the stench o f clogged drains and indiscriminate dumping by their neighbours above. -filepic “We did not even know when or how the JMB in our flats was formed. We found out via a notice stuck on our door,” said a low-cost flats resident who only wants to be known as Azman.
He lives with his family in the Taman Bandar Sunway PJS 8/14 flats.
For over a decade now, residents there have been living with faulty septic tanks overflowing with sewage.
“The hardest part is collecting the monthly maintenance fee from residents,” said Jamaluddin Shaik Khader, a resident at the PKNS Seksyen 17 low-cost flats.
Residents there have been living with uncollected waste for over a decade along with faulty septic tanks and poorly maintained building.
The experiences of Azman and Jamaluddin are not uncommon. While in some cases it is an issue of apathy or unwillingness to pay up, more often than not it is because of a lack of awareness among residents and poverty.
The floor of this low- cost flat in PJS8/14 is mouldy because of the frequent overflow of sewage water from a septic tank. These residents find it hard to pay their monthly water and electricity bills so the last thing on their minds is paying maintenance fees.
But without maintenance fees, the JMB or JMC is unable to pay for rubbish collection, cleaning services and repair of broken amenities. In other words, it is unable to carry out general upkeep of the flats.
To-date, only 35 JMB and JMC are registered with the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ). This number is out of 110 low-cost flats totalling 32,591 units in the council’s jurisdiction.
In Shah Alam, the figure in the local council’s records is 56, with 123 low-cost flats in the city amounting to 19,252 units.
“What is going to happen to the rest who have not formed a JMB or JMC?” questioned Bukit Gasing assemblyman R. Rajiv.
He points out that even those with a committee cannot manage their flats well.
JMB and JMC
The JMB or JMC has to be registered and supervised by a department in the local government, the Commissioner of Building (COB).
JMBs are usually formed between residents and developers before the individual strata titles are given to property owners.
Once the strata titles are issued, the JMC will be formed.
The body or committee usually consists of about 15 homeowners who will be responsible for ensuring the buildings and common areas are clean, well maintained and the rubbish collected.
They are required to hold annual meetings to vote and elect members into the committee.
In addition, its members have to deal with the problems and complaints of other homeowners.
“With so much responsibility, how can the state or local government expect residents at low-cost flats to bear such a burden?” Rajiv said.
He said residents at low-cost flats already had enough financial or personal problems to deal with on a daily basis.
“It is rare to find people living in low-cost units who are capable and interested in being in charge,” he added.
A possible solution
Rajiv highlighted this during the state assembly last year and had proposed for the state to allocate funds to help provide maintenance for these low-cost flats.
“I have urged the state to take care of such flats, especially those who cannot form JMBs,” he said.
He cites an example of the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) low-cost flats in Section 17, Petaling Jaya which has not formed a JMB since the building was completed about 40 years ago.
Some units of the Mawar Jaya flats have been turned into dumping ground for rubbish and old furniture.
PKNS has hired a private consultant management to oversee maintenance, but the company is also finding it hard to collect funds for cleaning and rubbish collection.
“If residents do not pay their monthly maintenance fees, then there is nothing much anyone can do,” said Rajiv.
In addition, he urged the state government to step in when developers fail to maintain the low-cost flats.
“I proposed that the state and local authorities look into this on a case-by-case basis to help those who cannot deal with the maintenance of their buildings,” he said.
Rather than segregate who should do what, he urged the state to step in and take over.
The Selangor government introduced the State Refurbishment Scheme for Low-Cost Flats (Ceria) in 2011 with the aim of giving low-cost flats a facelift.
Projects under this scheme include fixing broken lifts, repairing leaking roofs and repainting buildings.
Residents will firstly be required to pay 10% of the total repair or repainting costs and another 10% once the works were completed.
The other 80% of the cost will be funded by the state.
Recently, the state came up with phase two of the Ceria scheme called La Ceria, which will be implemented soon.
La Ceria will focus only on maintenance, upgrading works and repair of elevators.
This will enable the state to focus on the quality and safety of the lifts to prevent them from breaking down.
The state may also appoint agents to manage low-cost flats which fail to set up its JMB or JMC.
This move is provided for under the Building and Common Property (Management & Maintenance) Act 2007.
The Act allows the state, through the local councils, to appoint management agents to manage and maintain the flats.
Housing, Building and Urban Settler Management Committee chairman Iskandar Abdul Samad could not be reached for comments.