So you finally bought your first house—a condo unit in the heart of the city. You have so many plans on how you want to furnish, paint and revamp it according to your taste. You’ve decided to extend the kitchen slightly and add another bathroom in the unit.
Now this would require some extensive renovations. And so, you get started immediately! Halfway through the renovation works, you get a notice from the condo management, asking you to stop all renovation works at once and pay a hefty fine of RM10,000!
Shocked and angry, you contact the condo management and they tell you that you have violated the renovation guidelines set by them. So this article is most definitely going to talk about whether you can do renovation works in a condo unit in Malaysia.
But before we look into the laws, let’s briefly take a look at who has the authority on condos or any other strata property in Malaysia.
There must be a management in strata properties
If you live in an apartment, condo, flat, SoHo, SoVo, or gated community—you’re said to be living in a ‘strata property’. Under the Strata Management Act 2013 ("SMA 2013"), there are three types of management bodies that are responsible for maintaining your condo.
The first kind of management body is the Joint Management Body (JMB). The JMB is a collaboration between the developer and the owners of the strata property. JMBs have to ensure that the apartment (or land if it is gated and guarded) and its common property is properly managed by keeping it in good repair. The JMB is also supposed to determine how much the maintenance charges and sinking funds would be and then collect it from you and the other owners. These duties are contained in section 21 of the SMA 2013.
The second type is the Management Corporation (MC). The MC has similar duties and powers but is only formed once you have received the title to your property. The management corporation is comprised only of owners to the property, without the part of the developer anymore.
The third is known as the sub-Management Corporation. The sub-MC comes into play when there is a need for separate management. An example of when there is separate management is when there are both commercial and residential properties or when there are limited common properties. The sub-MC, subject to any restrictions from the MC, has the same duties and powers as the MC.
The management bodies are legally allowed to carry out their duties, when it comes to maintaining the property. Section 21 (1) of the Strata Management Act 2013 states the management’s responsibilities. Here’s one of it:
So it’s pretty much the law that allows the management body to carry out their duties, and ensure the owner of the property does not violate the laws set under the Act.
Which brings us to the main question of this article, are renovation works allowed in strata properties?
It depends on what kind of renovation work is done
As we mentioned earlier, strata properties have management bodies that handle and take care of the property. So if you do plan on doing renovation work in your condo unit, you’ll have to get a letter of authorization from your property management first. The management has the right to reject your application if it doesn’t meet the guidelines set.
The rules are rather subjective as it depends on what kind of regulations your management has set. In most places, you’ll have to pay a deposit to the management which will then be refunded after the renovation— so long as no part of the property was damaged in the process.
Now there are also certain things the owner can’t do which are stated in the law. Part 7 of the Third Schedule of Strata Management (Maintenance and Management) Regulations 2015 put down the restrictions for renovation works and we’ve listed some of them here:
So the owner (proprietor) must first get permission from the management body, and comply with the rules set by the management when renovating a condo/apartment. The restrictions listed above should also be read through before starting any renovation work.
Assuming you’ve already started renovating your condo unit before reading this article, and the condo management has now sent you a letter asking you to pay a fine—take note that it is legal for them to do so. Section 7 under the 2015 Regulations gives the management body powers to do so:
So the management body can fine you for renovating without a permit, and the money from the fine must be deposited into the maintenance account of your condo/apartment.
We also have to highlight something: Not all home renovations actually require a permit. It depends on what type of property you own and how much you want to renovate it. Read the article below to know more: