GEORGE TOWN, March 13 — The Penang state government is facing RM18 million in rent arrears from tenants in its people’s housing project (PPR) and other rented flats, said Jagdeep Singh Deo.
The local government and housing development committee chairman said the sum was the total owed by tenants in all PPR and rental units owned by the state in all its five districts.
“First I first took over this portfolio in 2013, the arrears owed was RM14 million and now, this year, it is over RM18 million,” he said.
He said some of the tenants appeared to have satellite dishes installed, indicating subscriptions with the Astro pay-TV network.
Jagdeep said such tenants will be notified to settle what they owe, failing which authorities will remove the satellite dishes to disrupt their subscriptions.
“If they can pay for Astro, why can’t they pay for the maintenance fees?” he asked.
The state government is also working with its legal officer to recover the arrears as it must resort to legal action due to the severity of the issue, he said in a joint press conference with Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow today.
Earlier, Jagdeep said the Taman Manggis issue was finally resolved last night after the state housing department directly discussed the matter with the affected tenants.
He said a total of 22 tenants were issued notices to vacate the PPR units in Taman Manggis on October 2018.
Out of the 22, half voluntarily vacated the units while enforcement action was taken against the remaining 11 in late February this year.
He said four moved out on their own, while one had to sublet the unit to others and six were given options.
“Yesterday, we offered two rent-to-own units to two tenants who will only pay RM233.30 each month and own the units after 20 years,” he said.
One tenant was offered a low-medium cost unit of RM72,500 while three others are considering various options given.
Jagdeep stressed that only three tenants were still on the ground floor of Komtar as of yesterday and all have accepted the offers now.
He pointed out that these residents have also progressed as they would now be homeowners instead of tenants.
“Our aim is for these PPR tenants to be upgraded, to own their own homes, under our rent-to-own or low-cost housing projects,” he said.
He called on all PPR tenants and those still renting from the government’s various projects to update their details with the state housing department.
“They can upgrade to become homeowners under our various schemes, they don’t have to live in a PPR permanently, so they can apply and they will be given priority,” he said.
State exco Dr Afif Bahardin, who had tried to negotiate with the tenants camped in Komtar for almost a week, said the whole Taman Manggis controversy could have been resolved earlier had there not been interference by third parties.
“Some groups who allegedly represented the tenants have ulterior motives by instigating and capitalising on the issue,” he said.
He claimed that even the residents felt intimidated by the so-called non-governmental organisations (NGO) who were taking advantage of the situation.
“We gave so many different offers to the tenants but the instigators stopped them because they wanted the demonstration to continue on,” he said.
The last of the tenants packed up and left Komtar to go back to Taman Manggis last night.
They were given two weeks to pack up and move to the respective alternative places offered to them.