*Applicable to strata properties in West Malaysia and the Federal Territory in Labuan. Strata properties are condos, apartments, flats, any high- rise property and gated property.
If you’re an ardent reader of AskLegal, you would have come across many articles of ours on suing your condo developer or management. A lot of the time, we’re unhappy with the way our property is being managed and we’d like to get some sort of remedy for it. You have the right to sue your condo management because either:
i) A particular law allows you to do so or
ii) Your management has not been fulfilling what was promised in the contract between you and them
But here’s the thing: Your management can also sue YOU back for not complying with a lot of things as a resident in the property. So yes, the tables have turned. Here are some reasons they can take you to court instead.
1. Not paying your maintenance fees and sinking funds
If you’re ever late in paying your maintenance fees and sinking funds, you would have gotten several reminders to pay your dues. Be it in the form of a notice or displaying a list of people who didn’t pay, your management will surely remind you to pay up. If someone doesn’t pay for months, the management might bar the person’s access card or even clamp their vehicle.
It’s actually a legal requirement for your developer and condo management to open accounts for these funds, and for you to contribute to the accounts. Section 25(1) of the Strata Management Act (SMA) 2013 states:
The law above basically says that you are to pay your charges (fees) to your management for your own parcel (unit in the condo).
Section 34 of the same Act goes on to say that your developer CAN take action against you for failing to pay. It’s pretty lengthy and tedious, but in essence, Section 34 says:
- if you don’t pay your dues, your management has to give you a notice
- you should have 14 days or more to pay the amount owed and the exact amount of days will be stated in your notice
- if you still haven’t paid after the notice period is up, your management can file a case against you
- the penalty for not paying up is a maximum fine of RM 5,000 or a jail term of 3 years, or both
- if you continue to not pay, you’ll be fined a maximum of RM 50,000 for EACH day that you don’t pay
It’s important to note that maintenance fees and sinking funds are two separate things used for two separate purposes. The first is used for regular upkeep of the place while the second is used for major repair works. For this reason, your management will have a separate account for each and you’ll have to contribute to both. In other words, even if you pay your maintenance fees but not your sinking funds, you will still be in trouble with your management.
2. Renovating your house without their permission
You might want to spruce up your place every now and then, but when you live in a condo or any other strata property, you’re going to need your management’s permission first. You’ll have to get a renovation permit from your local council and THEN the approval of your condo management before you start working on your place.
The good news is that it doesn’t apply to every kind of renovation. Painting the walls of your own home or fixing new lights in the kitchen don’t require permits, since they are not major changes and they don’t alter the structure of your home. But in cases where you would want to break the wall between two rooms or extend the balcony, you would most certainly need to get the green light from your condo management.
Your condo is a shared space between you and other residents in the block, so you can’t make any changes to or renovate any space outside of your home. If you paint the corridors a different colour or change the tiling there, you’re most definitely looking at a lawsuit from your condo management.
3. Keeping pets in your condo
The law doesn’t explicitly say that you can’t have pets in a condo, but it does say that you can do so IF your management allows it. Section 14 of the Strata Management (Maintenance and Management) Regulations 2015 states that pets that are kept in condos (and other strata properties) should not be a nuisance or disturbance to other residents. If the pet is indeed disturbing others in the property, it can be taken away and action can be taken against the owner.
This, however, does not apply to all of Malaysia because only some states allow for pets in strata properties. But while some states do follow this law, the final say is the condo management’s. Basically, the law gives your condo management the right to allow pets on your property. Through this law, your management can also stipulate what kind of animals you can keep in your home and even what size they should be.
If your condo management allows for pets but your state law doesn’t, unfortunately,
you’ll probably have to move to a landed property you just won’t be allowed to have your pet with you. This is because state law will prevail over management rules, and if the state doesn’t give your management the right to allow pets, then there’s nothing that can be done about this.
[READ MORE: Can you legally keep pets in Malaysian apartments?]
4. Breaking any other management rules
As a strata property is a space shared with other residents, so your condo has the right to implement rules to ensure that everyone gets to enjoy the property equally. Section 32(3) of the Strata Management Act 2013 states:
So, this means that your condo management can make new rules or amend the existing ones whenever needed. They can impose rules for visitors, functions, usage of facilities and even how you should dry your laundry. Condo managements usually display these rules somewhere visible enough for residents to see. But if you don’t know what your condo rules are, make sure to ask your management so you don’t end up getting sued for something you didn’t know you couldn’t do.