Pitfalls of strata living — David ST Loh and Rebecca Lee

DEC 18 — We felt compelled to write this letter to warn others of the pitfalls in Strata living compared to staying in a landed property especially when you have an unreasonable Management Committee (MC).

We were so happy to have finally be able to afford a condo in the location of our dreams and was looking forward to be spending our retirement in this lovely place.

We believe like all home owners that one’s home is your castle and that you have your rights, including the right to renovate your apartment as long as you do not change the facade of the unit or touch any structural or load-bearing walls. However, we found this shockingly untrue.

Even though we adhered to the law, from getting the floor plan from the managing agent, using a reputable contractor, filing the renovation plan and getting the right approval from the authorities to renovate, the MC can make your life difficult and try to stop you from renovating.

Our MC said they have enacted a bylaw that states no doors, windows and walls can be demolished or reposition. Out of 11 items of our renovation request, only eight were allowed. They didn’t approve any of our renovation requesst that requires the relocation of our sink, and breaking down of internal partition walls (image attached below) which is obviously not a structural wall.

A day after we started the renovation, we emailed the MC to say we are applying to the city council to get our renovation plans approved and that we didn’t agree with their views that we cannot remove non-essential walls.

Due to that email, the MC slapped us with a verbal Stop Work Order (SWO) and told our contractor that they were not allowed to work the next day. They refused to give this SWO in black and white and divulged who ordered it.

The MC told me during a meeting the following day that to get the SWO lifted I had to agree with them that I cannot hack any walls. When I said I will comply but didn’t agree with them, the MC refused to lift the SWO.

The MC insisted that I have to say “I will not be hacking” which didn’t make any sense to me because they had allowed me to hack my wall and floor tiles.

The MC representative, who is a British proprietor, and should know his English, insisted that I put that phrase in because it was in the Act to mean “ No Breaking of Walls. When I asked them to show me that Act, they couldn’t.

To cut the story short, we were bullied  into sending them an email with that phrase to placate them although it didn’t make sense.

Then a shocking thing happened the following day, the chairman of the MC, a Datuk, came into my unit to check, and told my contractor off.

No one invited him in and he was trespassing, but that is another matter. 

The Datuk warned “Don't hack the wall, don't change anything in the unit.” He then added if not, he will blacklist my contractor from the condo.

Then he said this shocking statement, "Tell your owner that if he cannot follow their rules, ask him to buy somewhere (else), don't stay here."

I am sorry Datuk, but who are you to tell me this, your one vote in the condo is the same as mine. I am appalled in what you said, considering your stature in the community.

*This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.


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