RE­FORMS MAKE OUR PROP­ERTY LAWS BET­TER

A par­cel owner will now pay rent on his own par­cel to the rel­e­vant author­ity

New Straits Times - - Opinion - The writer for­merly served the At­tor­ney-Gen­eral’s Chambers be­fore he left for prac­tice, the cor­po­rate sec­tor and, then, the academia

held in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the min­istries and gov­ern­ment agen­cies to en­sure the suc­cess of this ini­tia­tive, which would in­volve peo­ple from all walks of life.

I am pretty sure that those in charge of the cam­paign would al­ready have a cal­en­dar of events lead­ing to­wards In­de­pen­dence Day cel­e­bra­tions, es­pe­cially those pro­grammes re­lat­ing to youth.

We have to re­mem­ber it’s a changed Malaysia from 60 years ago. En­gag­ing Malaysians of to­day is dif­fer­ent from the time of our fore­fa­thers. And I be­lieve each and ev­ery one of us can con­trib­ute in what­ever way we know best.

ON Jan 1, three new im­por­tant amend­ments af­fect­ing the na­tion’s prop­erty leg­is­la­tion came into force — Act A1516 (af­fect­ing the National Land Code 1965), Act A1517 (af­fect­ing the Land Ac­qui­si­tion Act 1960) and Act A1518 (af­fect­ing the Strata Ti­tles Act 1985).

They rep­re­sent a fi­nale of years of work car­ried out by sev­eral par­ties, in­clud­ing stake­hold­ers’ con­sul­ta­tion, led by the of­fice of the Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral of Lands and Mines (DGLM), Pu­tra­jaya.

De­spite some omis­sion, which I had pointed out in re­cent com­ments, these leg­isla­tive re­forms have taken our prop­erty laws to the next level.

In Fe­bru­ary 2015, DGLM had is­sued a Con­sul­ta­tion Pa­per ti­tled “Pro­posed amend­ments to Strata Ti­tles Act 1985 and Land Ac­qui­si­tion Act 1960”, stat­ing its in­ten­tion to in­tro­duce sev­eral amend­ments, in­clud­ing “the im­po­si­tion of rent of parcels for in­di­vid­ual strata ti­tles”.

DGLM said the pur­pose of the in­tro­duc­tion of rent of par­cel was to en­able par­cel own­ers to ex­e­cute deal­ings (trans­fer, charge, lease or ease­ment) in re­spect of his par­cel, since reg­is­tra­tion of deal­ings pre­sented in the Land Of­fice was de­pen­dent upon full pay­ment of the rent. Un­der the National Land Code (Code), rent of the land (com­monly re­ferred to as “quit rent”) is a ref­er­ence to the rent in re­spect of the land, on which the strata scheme is de­vel­oped, which must be paid in full an­nu­ally.

In the con­text of strata schemes, pay­ment of quit rent is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the man­age­ment cor­po­ra­tion, based on the con­tri­bu­tion of each par­cel owner in pro­por­tion to his share units.

It is DGLM’s pro­posal that this obli­ga­tion to pay the rent be trans­ferred to in­di­vid­ual par­cel own­ers. If this can be done, the quit rent in re­spect of the land to which the scheme be­longs will cease to be op­er­a­tive upon the com­mence­ment of the pay­ment of the par­cel rent.

In the event the strata scheme is ter­mi­nated, the quit rent in re­spect of the land will be re­vived, at a rate pre­vail­ing then. The pro­posal made sense and it was warmly re­ceived by all quar­ters.

Pur­suant to these ob­jec­tives, Act A1516 in­tro­duces a Sec­tion 96A in the Code, which states that when the Part IVA of the Strata Ti­tles Act comes into ef­fect, the pro­vi­sions of Part Six of the Code (which deals with “Rent”) shall not ap­ply, ex­cept Sec­tion 101 (which deals with re­vi­sion of rent).

In sim­ple terms, what this means is that when these amend­ments come into ef­fect, a par­cel owner will pay rent for his own par­cel to the rel­e­vant author­ity.

In sync with the amend­ments in the Code, Act A1518 has in­tro­duced a Sec­tion 4C in the Strata Ti­tles Act, which states that the min­is­ter, with the ap­proval of the National Land Coun­cil, may by no­ti­fi­ca­tion in the gazette, ap­point a date of the com­ing into op­er­a­tion of rent of par­cel or pro­vi­sional block in any state. Upon the com­ing into op­er­a­tion as afore­said, “the pro­vi­sions of Part IVA shall ap­ply”.

Part IVA of the Strata Ti­tles Act deals with “Col­lec­tion of Rent” and con­tains Sec­tions 23A (In­ter­pre­ta­tion), 23B (Rent to be debt to State Author­ity), 23C (De­ter­mi­na­tion and com­pu­ta­tion of rent), 23D (Where rent payable), 23E (No­tice of de­mand), 23F (Right of chargees, lessees to pay sum de­manded), 23G (Ef­fect of pay­ment of sum de­manded), 23H (For­fei­ture for non-pay­ment of sum de­manded), 23I (Power of State Author­ity to re­vise rent pe­ri­od­i­cally) and 23J (Ef­fect of ter­mi­na­tion of sub­di­vi­sion). In sim­ple lan­guage, what Part IVA seeks to achieve is that a par­cel owner is un­der a legal duty to pay rent for his par­cel to the rel­e­vant author­ity when it falls due. If he fails to do so, a legal de­mand no­tice to pay will be is­sued, which he must im­me­di­ately com­ply, in de­fault of which he runs the risk of los­ing his prop­erty through for­fei­ture by the state.

The Part IVA is fol­lowed by a Part IVB, which deals with “For­fei­ture and Vest­ing” and con­tains Sec­tions 23K (In­ter­pre­ta­tion), 23L (Re­ver­sion to State Author­ity), 23M (Ef­fect of for­fei­ture), 23N (Par­cel or pro­vi­sional block not to be trans­ferred dur­ing pe­riod of ap­peal against for­fei­ture), 23O (Power of State Author­ity to an­nul for­fei­ture) and 23P (Ap­peal against for­fei­ture).

Part IVB ex­plains that fol­low­ing the for­fei­ture of the par­cel due to the par­cel owner’s fail­ure or de­fault in pay­ing his rent, the par­cel will vest in the State Author­ity. The par­cel owner is given an op­por­tu­nity to ap­peal against the for­fei­ture and if his ap­peal suc­ceeds, the State Author­ity can an­nul it. If the ap­peal is re­jected, the Land Ad­min­is­tra­tor can de­clare that the par­cel, which re­verts to the State Author­ity, is now vested and reg­is­tered in the name of a “trans­feree”, who shall hold the par­cel on be­half of the State Author­ity. The “trans­feree” is de­fined in Sec­tion 23K as a “statu­tory author­ity”.

Our strata law, which be­gan as a small part of the National Land Code be­fore it took its present form as the Strata Ti­tles Act 1985 (Act 318), has been amended sev­eral times in the last three decades — in Fe­bru­ary 1990, then in Au­gust 1996, De­cem­ber 2001, April 2007, June 2015, and now on Jan 1. Par­tic­i­pants at­tend­ing a strata law con­fer­ence at the Se­tia Alam Con­ven­tion Cen­tre last week had asked whether Act A1518 can be re­garded as the last and fi­nal leg in our strata law re­form?

I told them “I hope not”. The good work should con­tinue.

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