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UNHAPPY: Property owners question City Hall’s move of revising assessment rates to almost 300 per cent
KUALA LUMPUR: PROPERTY owners in the city are jittery over the assessment rate hike which would take effect on Jan 1 next year.
Residents and businessmen also expressed concern over the quantum of the hike which has been speculated to go up as high as 300 per cent.
Over the past week a few residents called up Streets to say they received notices, which stated "Notice of revision of the Valuation List".
They highlighted that the letters only stated the valuation of the assessment based on the increase of market value that a new rate would take effect come Jan 1.
Bukit Bandaraya Residents' Association president Datuk Mumtaz Ali quoted a notice given to his neighbour living in a single-storey terrace house, which stated a proposed annual value of RM14,400.
The previous notice the neighbour received in July stated it as RM5,880.
"This means that most residents here will be paying about RM9 per square foot, from the previous RM3.60.
"They would be paying about RM864 compared to RM350.80 previously," he said.
"Not all who live in Bangsar are young and rich. We have a sizeable population of old folk in the neighbourhood who live on modest means.
"A hike of such a quantum can be especially stressful and burdensome for them.
"This means we would have to stretch whatever stipend we live on, ask money from our children or cut our retirement short and seek jobs," said the 60-year-old.
Mumtaz also remarked that Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor had previously said that property prices in KL had hit the roof and residents would eventually have to pay the corresponding value.
"This may apply for commercial property but what happens if you own a home and have been living there for decades and you only own one property?
"And if they say such an increase is to deter speculation what is the reason for the Real Property Gains Tax?
"The hike would commercialise neighbourhoods like Bangsar.
"Residents who can't afford to maintain their properties, thanks to the hike, would have to sell their properties and commercial establishments to those who have ready capital."
Brickfields Rukun Tetangga chairman S.K.K. Naidu said that to increase assessment rates of properties in such a quantum would add the burden to city folk's high cost of living.
"Now with the hike in petrol and the cut in sugar subsidies, this additional increase would mean that there would be harder times ahead and more urban poor.
"A small 10 per cent hike on a yearly basis is understandable but an immediate 100 to 300 per cent hike is burdensome," he said.
Naidu also claimed that City Hall's service and maintenance had been lacking over the past six months and it could not use the lacklustre services it had offered to justify the hike.
James Ng, a resident of Taman Tun Dr Ismail, said it was better for City Hall to wait for the objections that are to be sent in by Dec 17 before announcing when the new rates take effect.
"To readjust the rates in the July 2014 bill after objections and a public hearing would be silly.
"They should look into the objections before imposing the hike," he said, adding that based on his notice his new assessment bill would be RM2,400 compared to RM1,000 previously.
The 59-year-old condo owner suggested to the residents' association and his member of parliament to start a petition drive to urge the government to defer its decision until a dialogue has been held.
R. Chandra, who owns an office lot in Brickfields, said he did not agree to such a hike.
"There is enough commercial property so there is no issue of them not getting enough money from assessment.
"If they say they are not making enough then there must be leaks within the City Hall coffers," said 45-year-old, who has a realty business.
Chandra said City Hall increased the rates for commercial buildings about five years ago.
He has yet to receive any letter or information on the quantum of the hike for commercial properties.