Low-cost homeowners must evict their tenants and move into the units themselves within the month or face possible jail time, the Penang government warned today.
Housing development state executive councillor Jagdeep Singh Deo told the owners that renting out the homes is a breach of their low-cost housing contracts.
“So, this Friday, at the state exco meeting, I will have the state legal advisor go through the legal notices that we will be sending to all LC owners to evict their tenants in 30 days time,” he told a press conference this morning.
Under the sale and purchase contracts signed by LC purchasers with the state government, owners are prohibited from renting out their units and must live in it themselves.
The contract also states that if they fail to do so, the state reserves the right to repossess the homes and charge them in court for cheating, under section 420 of the Penal Code, which stipulates a jail term of not more than a year and not less than 10 years or whipping or fine upon conviction.
“If the LC owners fail to fulfil the contract conditions and refuse to comply with the legal notices we send to them, we may have to initiate criminal proceedings against them,” Jagdeep said.
He said the homeowners should not complain as when applying for the units, they had claimed they needed the homes for themselves.
Jagdeep added that the state has been receiving many complaints on social problems due to a high number of foreign workers are renting LC units in residential areas in the state.
“We are looking at thousands of LC units in the state being rented out, many are to foreign workers,” he said, adding that he does not have any exact figures.
Jagdeep said the state is currently keeping vigilance over a block of flats with 226 units that it believes have been rented out to foreign workers.
He said once legal notices have been sent out, these foreign workers will be evicted and they will have no where to go.
“This is a two-pronged problem, if we get the LC owners to evict them, our next problem will be there is no place for them to go which is why it is time the state look into setting up designated foreign workers hostels,” he added.
Jagdeep said he will push for a foreign workers hostel at the next state legislative sitting, modelled after the one in Singapore.
“If we look at the foreign workers hostel in Singapore, it is a very nicely planned space covering 10 acres complete with in-house shops facilities, sports facilities and security which are better than the deplorable conditions of some of these places that the foreign workers are living in now,” he said.
He said the state will have to work out a mechanism to set up such a hostel, either through public private partnership or for developers to build and then rent. - By Opalyn Mok (The Malay Mail Online)