Chris was one of the guests on 21/5/20202 Facebook Live Fireside Chat on ‘Property management now and post pandemic : Woes | Legality | Reality‘, together with Architect Centre Sdn Bhd accredited architect and trainer Anthony Lee Tee, Henry Butcher Malaysia (Mont’Kiara) SdnBhd executive director Low Hon Keong, and moderated by editor-in-chief Au Foong Yee. The Fireside Chat was supported by Matrix Concepts Holdings Bhd and Panasonic Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

After weeks of partial lockdown, Malaysians are gearing up for a new normal in living and working. What does this mean for strata property management?

Let’s take a look of some key highlights from Chris Tan‘s sharing, news in

Not OK to waive maintenance fees in light of Covid-19

Many strata property owners may have sought waivers or discounts on maintenance fees since the Covid-19 outbreak and the ensuing Movement Control Order (MCO) period but such fee waivers and discounts are not viable as any adjustments in fee collection or sinking funds will need the approval of property owners via an AGM or EGM.

Chris noted that under current laws and regulations, it is compulsory to have the physical presence of property owners in an AGM or EGM. However, according to the Housing and Local Government Ministry’s SOP in light of the Covid-19 updated May 20, 2020, Joint Management Bodies (JMBs) and Management Corps (MCs) cannot hold any AGMs and EGMs.

“Besides, it would not be workable due to social distancing measures,”

Furthermore, current laws also do not support virtual or online AGM or EGMs to be held as the Strata Management Act 2013 states that physical presence of owners is required.

“Even if online AGMs are allowed, would it be accessible to all especially those in low-cost or affordable housing schemes? Also, can the system support so many people going online at the same time? How do we ensure the discussion could involve the majority?”

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Covid-19: Stricter SOPs needed for short term rentals

Chris pointed out that all short-term rental operators must adhere to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government’s guidelines or SOPs for strata schemes including social distancing, disinfection of the premises and to have tracing of the people going in and out of the premises. Besides, short-term rentals are only allowed in commercial-titled buildings and landed strata schemes, he reminded.

“If one of the tenants has Covid-19, who’s to blame? Has the owner disinfected the place? If there is proof that the owner did not disinfect or did not disinfect up to a certain standard, then obviously the liability goes back to the owner. In the end somebody has to be responsible and it goes back to the root of the causation. Was it because the property manager wasn’t managing the building well? Was it because the security guard did not closely check?”

Nevertheless, the last thing anyone wants is a case of Covid-19 because it will affect the entire building adversely.

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JMBs and MCs advised to comply with SOPs during pandemic

Joint Management Bodies (JMB) and Management Corporations (MC) should not use the current Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse for not performing their duties.

Chris said the authorities can only exercise their discretion to not penalise if one cites the pandemic as a reason for not carrying out a necessary duty.

Chris noted that a JMB or MC or a property manager must not neglect required tasks such as ensuring the renewal of fire certificates and ensuring the lifts and other systems meet requirements.

“If you want the authority to exercise discretion, you have to be reasonable. If you are supposed to renew certificates within the MCO (Movement Control Order) period but you can’t do it, you need to show you had tried to do so and have the evidence to prove that for instance you contacted the authority via phone call, email or registered post.”

“Don’t forget the government premises may be shut down but the mechanism is not shut down,”

He also stressed that it is important to follow the SOPs set by the authorities to protect oneself.

“Many have asked if the Housing and Local Government Ministry’s SOP is law? I can tell you it is not a law but a guideline. However, one of the fundamentals we must do in property management now is that if there is an SOP, follow the SOP. If anything happens at the end of the day, at least you can say you have complied with the guidelines from the authority,”

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What is the ideal pandemic-proof home?

Since the Covid-19 outbreak and the Movement Control Order, many of us could be thinking of creating a pandemic-proof home. How does one do that?

“It may come in the form of human, not physical structures.”

“We cannot fight something we cannot see and touch. How can physical structures withstand something we cannot see or touch?”

Chris said, a real pandemic-proof home is perhaps to live within a well-managed and harmonious community, he added.

“We are likely to have to live with Covid-19 for some time so a strong community with proper property management is probably the best.” he concluded.

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