Key changes to the Strata Titles Act 1985
The new Section 4C of the STA introduces the concept of rent for parcels and provisional blocks. Instead of the MC paying quit rent on the master title, the new Section 4C and Part IVA introduced by the STA(A)2016 shifts the obligation to the respective parcel owners to pay rent for parcels or provisional blocks. Rent for parcels or provisional blocks will apply to all strata titles including those registered before the date of coming into operation of the STA(A)2016.
Upon the commencement of rent for parcels and provisional blocks, quit rent in respect of the lot ceases to operate. This change should address the inequalities created under the previous regime as the recalcitrance of certain individual parcel owners will no longer affect the whole development.
Court order to comply The STA sets out mandatory time frames for a land owner to apply for the subdivision of a building or land. At present, failure to make such an application within the specified period is an offence and punishable with a fine, imprisonment or both. Although imposing a fine and imprisonment may serve to deter land owners from delaying the application process, these penalties do not provide a clear recourse to the wronged parcel owners, whose ownership claim over their respective parcel can only be evidenced with the corresponding strata titles.
Pursuant to the new Section 8(8)(b) of the STA, the court may order and prescribe a time for the proprietor to comply with the provisions of STA to submit the application for subdivision of building or land. Therefore, wronged parcel owners, once the amendment comes into effect, may apply for an order from the court to compel the land owner to submit the application for subdivision of building or land required for the subsequent issuance of strata titles of the parcels.
Acquisition of the whole or part of a strata development.
The STA at present does not provide for the compulsory acquisition of the whole or part of a strata development. The new Section 57A of the STA introduced via STA(A) 2016 permits compulsory acquisitions of the whole or part of a strata development in accordance with the procedures set out in the new Seventh Schedule. In the Seventh Schedule, an acquisition under the LAA may be proposed for:
(i) the whole lot with the strata development;
(ii) part of the lot with the strata development;
(iii) only the common property of the strata development; or
(iv) any parcel or provisional block within the strata development.
In addition to the above, in respect of temporary occupation or use of land under the LAA, the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Act 2016 (LAA(A)2016) introduces amendments to Section 60 of the LAA allowing land owners or lessees to object if aggrieved with the compensation offered by the land administrator and to refer their dispute to the court. This is significantly different from the present wordings of Section 60 of the LAA, which specifically allow the land administrator to refer the difference to the court if the land administrator is unable to agree with the land owner or lessee on the amount of compensation to be paid for the temporary occupation under Section 58 of the LAA or restoration of the land temporarily occupied under Section 59 of the LAA.
This amendment arguably brings more fairness compared with the position under the previous regime as it is now clear that aggrieved land owners are allowed to refer their dispute to court.
The STA(A)2016 seeks to refine and streamline the STA to be more in line with the needs of the times. This is consistent with the other key changes brought about by the National Land Code (Amendment) Act 2016, STA(A)2016 and the LAA(A)2016 (collectively Amended Acts), all of which are significant to property owners and property developers. The changes pursuant to the Amended Acts are, on the whole good, for Malaysia as they facilitate complex, highdensity developments to meet the increasing demands of property ownership, allow for acquisition of underground land, for the optimisation of the use of land, and provide clarity and resolve issues that have been long plaguing property owners in Malaysia.
Contributed by Choo Yuen Phing and Kee Yoke Yew of Christopher & Lee Ong (www. christopherleeong.com).