Chang: New urban redevelopment law will impact buyers' rights

KUALA LUMPUR: Gentrification is anticipated to be one of the outcomes of the redevelopment law being passed and put into effect in Malaysia, according to Datuk Chang Kim Loong, the honorary secretary-general of the National House Buyers Association (HBA).

Chang noted that the proposed law, aimed at facilitating the urban renewal, redevelopment, rejuvenation, and regeneration of certain identified private properties in urban areas such as Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, and Penang, will have a detrimental impact on residents' rights.

"The main goals of the proposed redevelopment law are rehabilitation, revitalisation, regeneration, and redevelopment. All are good words, but they need to be converted into constructive action. If we were to take the literal meaning of all these catchwords, it would appear that the objectives were positive and for the greater good.

"But after deeper examination, it appears to be more in line with the interests of those with commercial interests than the rights of homeowners. This result clearly violates our rights as guaranteed by Article 13 of the Federal Constitution," he told NST Property.

According to the Oxford Language Dictionary, gentrification is defined as 'the process whereby the character of a poor urban area is changed by wealthier people moving in, improving housing, and attracting new businesses, often displacing current inhabitants (emphasis mine) in the process'.

Chang claimed that the proposed law, has been met with significant concern from representatives from resident associations, management bodies, non-profit organisations, institutes of higher learning, and individual property owners.

The primary concern revolves around the "consent threshold" required from property owners before a development can be redeveloped under the new law, Chang said.

"A few figures have been suggested, such as a 90 per cent or 75 per cent consent threshold, raising questions about whether the government understands it is dealing with private citizens' properties, not its own," he said. 

Chang explained that the government intends to introduce a low consent threshold in the new law to ensure smoother implementation, despite anticipated resistance from a minority of owners unwilling to part with their properties, regardless of the compensation offered.

"The government justifies this approach by citing the presence of numerous dilapidated, structurally obsolete, and unsound developments," he said.

Chang urged the public to question the true motivation behind this proposed redevelopment law and to consider whether such a law is necessary to ensure the safety and security of urban areas.

He added that Malaysia has sufficient laws to protect the rights of homeowners and effectively address the government's purported concerns.

The existing laws in place for the protection of homeowners are the Federal Constitution, the National Land Code 1965, the Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Act 1966, the Strata Titles Act 1985, the Strata Management Act 2013 (SMA), and the Land Acquisition Act 1960 (LAA).

Additionally, the SMA for strata buildings; the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974; the Local Government Act 1976; the Federal Territory (Planning) Act 1982; and the Town and Country Planning Act 1976 are in place to ensure obsolete and structurally unsafe residential structures and buildings are adequately addressed.

"It is sufficient to say that we have numerous regulations protecting homeowners and addressing issues with deteriorating and structurally hazardous residential structures. What is lacking is the enforcement of these laws by the appropriate authorities," he noted.

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