Saturday, June 11, 2011

    I am a member of my condominium management committee and have been for a couple of years now. I have never lived in a condo before and needless to say I have never served on a management committee. I have friends who serve on condo committees back in the US and only have their experiences to relate to here in Malaysia. I am learning a lot about the local culture and how different it can be. As every condo does, here and in the US we have our own House Rules, by which all residents are supposed to abide. We have had few problems with people not living up to their responsibilities. Recently this changed dramatically. We have a resident who submitted plans to renovate his unit. According to his plan he was only going to change the location of toilets in the bathrooms and replace the bathroom tiles. His plans were approved and he was given permission to begin renovation. As the renovation started he moved a rather expensive massage chair to the nearby elevator lobby on his floor. This was so that it was in plain sight of the CCTV and would not be stolen. He then put all of his belongings in an air well next to his unit and padlocked it. This air well is used by the fire department in case of fire and cannot be locked. These two facts were bad enough, but what was really surprising is that he had the entire unit gutted, including load bearing walls. The fire department came and insisted that the air well be unlocked and the chair be removed as it a safety hazard.

    The management sent the owner of the unit a letter citing the safety violations and calling attention to the non adherence to the renovation plans. The letter called for him to remove the chair, to unlock the air well and remove his personal property from this common area and to cease renovation until new and actual renovation plans were submitted. To me this was the natural course to take and I expected the owner to responsibly comply with the terms of the letter. Well that didn't happen. The day he got the letter he stormed into the management office, tore the letter to shreds and threw it at the building manager. He then demanded to see the chairperson of the management committee. She just happened to be in the office at this time and came to meet the man. As she appeared he assaulted her and threw a desk fan at one of the office employees. He explained that he owned his unit and he did not have to follow any body's rules but his.

    The police were called, but as it happens here, they would not come. The chairperson had to go to the police station to file a report. The police still did nothing, as usual. The owner, later that day threatened the woman and her young children. He made over 30 harassing phone calls to the woman that evening. The police advised the woman to go to the doctor and then contact her lawyer, as they thought this was a personal matter. In other words they didn't want to do anything. The situation is still not resolved and I am anxious and concerned to see what the outcome is.

    I know that this is an isolated incident, but it does show how arrogant and ignorant some people can be. I am sure that things like this happen in condos and apartment building all over the world. There are just too many people who think the rules apply to everyone, but themselves.


  1. Absolute disgrace. I wonder at what stage assault becomes serious enough to do something about it!!! Hopefully it will get sorted soon. One of the things that bothers me about condo living TBH. Many similar problems in the UAE, there the police may well come. Default position though tended to be that whichever party was the Emirati would be in the right.

  2. I am so used to calling the police when something happens and have them come within minutes, that I can't understand the system here. Also when you have to go to the police station, you have to make your report in Bahasa, because they don't understand English or Hokkien. Even if you know Bahasa you still have to type the report yourself.

  3. Yes,shocking behaviour indeed.

    Surprised to hear that the police did not want to get involved. Did you get the condo manager to make the report? He/She should know the proper legal procedure to handle such a situation.

  4. Yes the manager did make a report. Apparently procedure depends upon which police station you have to go to.

  5. If the report is properly submitted at the correct police station, the police would be obliged to act. Otherwise they run a risk of your complaining to the newspapers.

    Assuming, the belligerent party refuses to budge, your next step is to issue a legal notice via your solicitors. Again your condo manager should know the proper procedure to handle such a dangerous situation, otherwise you should employ a properly qualified management firm.

    There are strata title laws in Malaysia which govern the running of condos, etc. & which often have to be invoked through legal means e.g. when stubborn owners refuse to pay monthly management fees or resort to dangerous practices such as that displayed at your condo.

    I too have also experienced minor infractions of condo regulations over the last 15 years of my stay in KL. Thankfully, these issues have been resolved painlessly thorough proactive actions by various condo managers. Usually it's the belligerent party backing off once they start getting disapproving looks from their neighbors or photos of their illegally parked cars displayed on the public notice boards. On the rare occasion, someone's car gets scratched & he quickly learns to behave.

  6. Thank for your valuable comment. I will share this with other members of my council and management.

  7. Today's Sunday Star newspaper carries a full page article on strata management matters in Malaysia on page 27 of the Focus section.