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Still warning, none caught yet

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In Penang, State Town, Country Planning and Housing Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said that there were thousands of errant property owners in the low cost (LC) and low medium cost (LMC) who have violated the housing ruling and renting their units out. He said he has received complaints about this and views this non-compliance very seriously as there are still so many in the waiting list for LC and LMC units. To be exact, there are 25,065 applicants for LCs and 24,823 applicants for LMCs. He said that the state has consulted the Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA), Penang Chapter for help in tackling this situation. The solution is ‘not to help the LC and LMC unit owners to advertise the units for rent’. In fact, the punishment is pretty heavy. Jagdeep said house owners caught renting out their LC or LMC units are punishable under Section 420 of the Penal Code for cheating, which shall be punished with up to 10 years of jail and whipping. 10 years of jail and WHIPPING. No mention of how many have been caught and punished thus far though.

He further elaborated that in Penang, the The Selection Process Enhancement Committee (Spec) is the one which goes through the list of all applicants and ensures only those who needs them gets them. He reiterated the number of units in the pipeline including 22,545 units of LC (850 units), LMC (7,874 units) and affordable housing (13,851 units). In other words, more units are coming but these numbers are still way below the total number of applicants in the waiting list. This is the main reason why only those who needs them should be given them. This is not an issue with the state government. It’s an issue with the owners who are trying to cheat and obtain additional benefits. Irregardless of reasons, I think the state government should take action. Only after the first batch of these owners are punished that all others thinking of doing the same would be scared to do it. Whether it’s Penangites in Penang or even Singaporeans in Singapore, the best deterrent is to catch, punish and tell the world.

In fact when we look at the selection criteria, it’s pretty clear that the breaches should be dealt with by taking away the units from these owners because if they can rent it out, it meant that they have a place to stay. Since this is the case, they should be getting the units meant for all those who really needs them. All these properties have a 10-year moratorium whereby during this period, the owner is not allowed to sell the property. Perhaps, it should also be stated clearly that they MUST stay there or NO RENTING out is allowed or even if rented out, the state government should get the money to subsidise for the next purchasers. If however, ‘no renting out’ is not part of the moratorium, then taking actions may be much tougher. Happy catching a few of them for a start.

written on 23 Dec 2014

Next suggested article: Holding Back, There’s too much negativity in Penang Property Market

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