Friday, November 13, 2009

Full text of debate on Housing Developers (Control and Licensing)

Speech by Chiew Chin Sing, DAP Sarawak Deputy Chairman, Chairman of DAP Bintulu Branch and Member of the Sarawak State Legislative Council of N 59 Kidurong on the debate on the Housing Developers (Control and Licensing) (Amendment) Bill 2009, on the 10th of Nov., 2009, in the Sarawak State Legislative Council, Kuching, Sarawak.

Mr. Speaker,

There are some observations I wish to make on the Housing Developers (Control and Licensing) (Amendment) Bill 2009 and I hope that after the passing of the bill and with establishment of the Tribunal, home buyers will have better protection for the houses they have bought, housing developers would make their fair share of the profit, and in general, with the passing of the bill it is hoped that the housing industry in the state will enjoy even healthier growth.

Mr. Speaker,

I am of the opinion that if we want to minimize disputes in buying and selling houses by the housing developers, first of all the sales and purchase agreement would have to be fair to both parties. I mean, how many of us when signing the sales and purchase agreement really know exactly what we are signing about.

That is why in order to make sure that what we are signing is alright, of course it would be best for us to consult our lawyers, but many of us can’t afford that. That is why, it would be good if we could have Housing Controller to vet first the sales and purchase agreement as had been prepared by the lawyers of the developers.

The Housing Controller should also be empowered to oversee and report the conduct of the consultants engaged by the developer as well, hopefully, this will help to weed out some of the problems at its very start and thus minimizing the disputes.

Mr. Speaker,

section 17A –(2) on the membership of the tribunal, although it is specified that they should be from amongst persons who possess a recognized legal qualification or who are members of any registered professional bodies in Sarawak and have relevant experience in the housing industry, I am of the opinion that the chairman must be a person learned in the law, one of the member must be a surveyor with expertise in valuation, housing condition or management. Then, there need to be a lay person as member also and the rest can be as of clause 17A-(2).

Section 17G (2). It is urged that the place of the sitting of the Tribunal could be carried out in all major towns in Sarawak, and not just more at the HQ in Kuching for example, so as to minimize the inconvenience of the claimants and that all cases could , be settled as soon as possible with little delay and the most within 3 months.

Section 17I (3) the limitation period in which a house buyer can file a claim to the tribunal on structural and foundation defects should be within 6 years from the date of the issuance of the occupation permit. So many times we see cracks appearing on walls, floor sinking and beam slanting after the foundation settle, drains and verandah outside- crack and sink and even the drains outside the house and the road also sink and who will bear the costs of all these structural and foundation defects. Had a proper job be done in the first place with proper piling and ground settlement non of this would have happened. So 6 years for structural and foundation defects and 12 months for other defects.

Whereas it is good that the bill is trying to tackle some of the problems as would be encountered in the housing development industry, the limitation of jurisdiction as set out in Section 17 J (1) (a) however is not going to help those who had bought houses, get the occupation permits but cannot get the house to his name, as he cannot get the title.

Mr. Speaker,

The whole thing about buying a house is that, when the house is done and money paid then you should get a title and then the house is really yours. But sometimes it is not like that. I hope the Minister could look into this problem and help remedy the situation.

I mean would it not be ironical, if after going to all the trouble and even to the tribunal to fix all defects and yet the house is not in your name. I mean if we go Tribunal for help, then it would be good if the Tribunal could help us all the way.

Lastly, if the Honourable Minister could enlighten us on the avenue for appeal on the judgment of the Tribunal.

Thank you. Mr. Speaker.

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