More stringent rules for property sector

The Housing and Local Government Ministry hopes to table the amendments made to the Housing Development Act 1966 before the year-end in a bid to further regulate the property industry and safeguard the interest of house buyers.

“We want to introduce more stringent rules to reduce the rate of abandoned housing projects,” Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung said after delivering his keynote address at the 14th National Housing and Property Summit yesterday.

The amended Act is expected to reduce the cases of developers abandoning their projects and abscond with house buyers' deposits. Currently, there are 161 such abandoned projects, of which only 72 have been revived.

Initially, the amendments were scheduled for tabling in March. However, it was delayed to allow for more time and feedback from industry players.

Chor also said the authorities would introduce an element of criminality to weed out fly-by-night developers and hold errant property developers accountable for their acts.

Recently, Chor said that some of the suggestions for the amendment was to take legal action against the developers and, if found guilty, they would be slapped with a fine of RM250,000 to RM500,000 or up to three years' jail, or both.

The deposit required to obtain a developer's licence will also be increased from the present RM200,000.

Chor said as part of the Government's initiative to prevent abandoned housing projects, the authorities were also promoting the build-then-sell (BTS) business model to developers.

“By 2015, all developers should be on a BTS basis, and abandoned housing projects will be a thing of the past by then,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chor dismissed reports that the Government might consider restricting individuals to purchase only one house.

“This is a democratic country and if people are able to afford, why not? It has been taken out of context,” he said. - By Choong En Han (The Star)

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