Knowing Your Rights As Strata Property Owners

As more and more strata developments are built today, you may be in fact a strata property owner. Also known as a gated and guarded development, it is essentially a scheme where the building or land is divided up into individual lots, with common property.
A common property parts of the building that are shared by all individual owners and is not part of an individual parcel. For example, they include the pipes and electrical wiring, stairways and ramps.
Common for properties like condos, apartments, or landed properties which have gated security, they have separate individual titles, except issued to units of houses or high-rises within a development that share common facilities.
However, do you know that as a strata property owner, you have rights to decide how the property is being managed and run? Do you know what are some of the ways you can exercise these rights and why it is important to do so?
Here are four rights that you have as a strata property owner:
1) Defect liability period rights
After the delivery of vacant possession and the key to your property, you have a period of up to 24 months to claim for any defects in the property from the developer such as leaks, floor cracks, structural faults, uneven surfaces, stains and not up to par paintworks amongst many others.

2) You can ask to review the accounts for the maintenance fee and sinking fund
Living in a strata property requires you fork out a sum of amount each month called the maintenance fee for the upkeep of your common facilities such as the swimming pool, lifts, guard services and so forth. The sinking fund which is also known as your “rainy day funds” is usually used for big ticket items such as repainting of the common property and replacing pumps or renovating the lifts. It is usually charged at a minimum of 10% of your maintenance fee. Here are some of the distinct usage features of the fund.
What is maintenance fee and sinking fund for?
For your information, under Act 757 of the Strata Management Act 2013, the maintenance fee shall be solely used for the purpose of meeting the actual or expected general or regular expenditure necessary in respect of the following:
• Maintaining the common property in good condition on a day-to-day basis.
• Meeting other expenses of a general or regular nature relating to the maintenance and management of the building or land intended for subdivision into parcels and the common property.
• Complying with any notice or order given or made by the local authority in respect of periodical inspection of any building in the development area in the manner as specified in the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974.
• Paying for the expenses incurred in providing cleaning services for common property, security services and amenities for the occupiers of the building.
• Paying any premiums for the insurance effected under this Act or any other insurance approved by a special resolution in a general meeting.
• Complying with any notice or order given or made by the local authority in respect of periodical inspection of any building in the development area in the manner as specified in the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974
• Minor painting works on the premises of the common property
Meanwhile, the sinking fund account shall be used solely for the purpose of meeting the actual or expected capital expenditure in respect of the following matters:
• The painting or repainting of any part of the common property.
• The renewal or replacement of any fixture or fitting comprised in any common property.
• The upgrading and refurbishment of the common property.
• The acquisition of any moveable property for use in relation to the common property.
• Any other capital expenditure as the JMB deems necessary.
Any expenditure made by the Management Corporation would need to go through a voting process at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) or Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM). Do check on the accounts to ensure the funds are properly utilised.
3) Voting during AGMs and EGMs
The developer has to call for an AGM within 12 months of the first delivery of vacant possession.
Here, you would be able to vote on the preference of how you think the management should best run the development be it how much they are spending on security fees, how many cleaners should be hired to upkeep the development, the need to raise the maintenance fee and so forth.
If there is an urgent need to raise a specific issue which cannot wait until an AGM takes place, the Management Corporation or Joint Management Body can also request for an EGM.
As a strata owner, you have the right to vote on a resolution but please ensure that all outstanding funds have been paid or your rights will be revoked

4) You can file a claim under the Strata Management Tribunal
As an owner, you are protected under the Strata Management Tribunal (SMT).
Any disputes relating to strata management can be filed at the SMT as it was formed to provide solutions for disputes related to the failure of a strata management to perform duties, functions, or powers imposed by the Strata Management Act (SMA) 2013.
You have to fork out a minimum cost to file your claims at the SMT and do take note that the SMT has a monetary jurisdiction not exceeding RM250,000 – what this means is that they can’t entertain a case where there is more than RM250,000 involved.
It is best to exercise your rights as a strata property owner as the property involves the usage of common facilities and without proper upkeep and maintenance, it can have dire consequences to the value and condition of the development as a whole.

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