Prices, rental for low-cost homes to be regulated under National Housing Policy

Weak regulation has opened up the low-cost housing sector to speculation and profiteering by unscrupulous investors, who buy them at a subsidised price only to 'flip' it later for short-term profit. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Weak regulation has opened up the low-cost housing sector to speculation and profiteering by unscrupulous investors, who buy them at a subsidised price only to 'flip' it later for short-term profit. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 29 — Rent and prices for low-cost houses will soon be regulated once Putrajaya introduces the Rent Control Bill to clamp down on profiteering.

Putrajaya said rent control was crucial towards making homes accessible to bottom and middle-income earners, particularly in crowded urban centres where property prices have quadrupled in the last decade.

The Bill was among various measures to address the country’s housing problems under the National Housing Policy 2019-2025.

But it is unclear if the regulation will cover rental for homes in different price brackets.

Under the new policy, rent will be capped at 25 to 30 per cent of household income, while tenancy will be kept at not more than three years. To encourage ownership, the rent will be gradually increased after the period.

The NHP report, unveiled by Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin yesterday, stated that the pegging measure would be implemented for low-cost homes.

“Through the NHP, a comprehensive and holistic approach will be introduced to increase accessibility for people to own or rent existing homes,” the report said.

Weak regulation has opened up the low-cost housing sector to speculation and profiteering by unscrupulous investors, who buy them at a subsidised price only to “flip” it later for short-term profit.

Complaints that owners would slap above-market rent rates on desperate tenants are also common.

Many of these houses, usually public flats, also often end up being rented by migrant workers, and charged per head. Investors, usually politically-connected, can easily earn RM1,500 by renting it out to 10 tenants at RM150 each.

So, poor households will likely welcome the move. Putrajaya said it would keep rental rates “realistic” and establishing a national housing data can weed out predatory buying by keeping tabs on owners.

At the moment, planning, building and maintaining public homes are decentralised and fall under local government purview.

With the planned National Housing Agency, a consolidated entity comprising the various government housing authorities, housing policies will be streamlined and addressed systematically.

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