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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Penang low-medium cost house buyers say forced to pay double the price

CAP complaints section chief Ravinder Singh (2nd from right, seated) at the press conference today.
GEORGE TOWN: The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) says it has received numerous complaints from first-time house buyers who claim they are being forced to pay more than the price mandated by the state government for low-medium cost (LMC) homes.
CAP said the LMC apartments are allegedly being sold for more than double the sticker price of RM72,500 for a 760 sq ft unit.
The Penang government requires any developer wanting to build luxury units or units higher than the affordable home price of RM400,000 to build 30% of LMC units priced at RM72,500. A typical LMC unit has three rooms and two baths measuring 760 sq ft.
Today, CAP complaints section chief Ravinder Singh gave an example of an LMC project in Tanjung Tokong, where buyers are allegedly being forced to take a car park lot or “renovation” packages.
He said the “renovation” entailed “a shoddy tiling job and nothing more”, with buyers also being told to top up RM1,000 per floor for units located on higher floors and an additional RM8,000 for “corner units”.
Home buyer Erman Kamal Mustafa Kamal.
“Say you are on the 15th floor. They would charge you RM10,000 more as they would calculate from the fifth floor onwards. Levels one to four are car park levels.
“If buyers refuse to take up the offer, the developers would often tell the buyers to take it or leave it,” Ravinder said in a press conference here.
He said CAP had written to the developer of the project concerned for a breakdown on the extras for one complainant who purportedly ended up paying RM130,000 for a RM72,500 unit.
Housewife Nor Nazirah Sudin (in pink hijab) with other upset home buyers of a project in Tanjung Tokong.
He said the developer told CAP in a letter that besides the RM72,500 unit price, RM30,000 was for a car park lot, RM15,000 was for the “floor increment fee” of RM1,000 per level, RM8,000 was for “corner unit” selection, RM1,300 for legal fees for the sales and purchase (S&P) agreement, and RM3,200 for legal fees for a banking facility.
Ravinder also said the “corner unit” fee was a ruse to fleece buyers as the corner unit was the same size as other units at 760 sq ft.
He said in 2010, the previous Penang government had said it was aware of the issue after CAP complained. Ravinder said the state government had said “the matter is between the developer and the purchaser”.
Home buyer G Letchumi.
He asked why the “extra packages” were being included in the S&P agreement when the price should be RM72,500.
“To prevent this, CAP recommends that the signing of the S&P be done at the state housing office to ensure that buyers are not arm-twisted into taking up unnecessary packages.”
The press conference was also attended by 10 individuals who had bought units at the Tanjung Tokong LMC apartment. They said they realised that they had paid different prices for their homes after living there for about a year.
Housewife Nor Nazirah Sudin, 34, said she paid RM182,000 for her level six unit.
“I was supposed to get a higher floor unit, but once they found out that my loan was high, they gave me a different unit. When I complained, they said ‘Don’t worry, you can sell your property for a higher price in the future.’
Wheelchair-bound home buyer Chan Swee Chen.
“I am not planning to resell my property, I just want a roof over my head,” she said.
Erman Kamal Mustafa Kamal, 34, said he too paid RM182,000 for his unit, but that there were many defects in the unit.
Wheelchair-bound Chan Swee Chen, 37, said she was told that disabled-friendly access ramps would be available once the project was ready, but this was not so. She paid RM174,000 for her unit.
G Letchumi, 52, said she had waited 12 years to get the unit so she bit her tongue and paid RM130,000, with RM50,000 for a car park lot, as it was “compulsory”.
FMT has contacted state housing committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo for comment and is awaiting his reply. - FMT

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