The Movement Control Order has been extended from 31.3.2020 to 14.4.2020 (the “MCO”). With the implementation of this Order, the Government has implemented strict social distancing requirements where movements of the public are restricted unless absolutely necessary or essential. We have also seen news circulating that all forms of sporting and recreational events are to be cancelled, and individuals are discouraged from even jogging at the park.
Does this then apply to strata home owners living within a closed compound of their apartment / condominium building?
If condominium facilities like the gym and swimming pool are closed, and residents are not allowed to access certain common areas for recreational use, is there a need to pay maintenance charges?
The quick answer to the above questions are: yes, all movements within the compound of the strata building is prohibited unless necessary and yes, maintenance charges still need to be paid continuously.
The Ministry of Housing and Local Government has issued an FAQ that acts as a guideline during the MCO period. To summarize, here are several key take away points for proprietors and management corporations during this unprecedented MCO period:-
- Strata communities are not allowed to roam freely within the compounds of the strata scheme / condominium;
- Common properties / facilities such as the gymnasium, badminton court, multipurpose hall, swimming pool must be closed;
- Household renovation within the compound of the strata scheme / condominium ought to be halted;
- All forms of general meeting i.e. AGM and EGM that was planned earlier must be adjourned. None of these meetings can be held during this period;
- Pursuant to the KPKT’s recent release dated 6.4.2020 (Ref No.: KPKT.800-7/2/1-JLD.5(60)), Joint Management Bodies and Management Corporations of strata schemes are allowed to operate to provide important management services relating to essential areas such as utilities, sewage, security control, telecommunications and mechanical maintenance. However, the following ought to be complied:-
- a verification letter to verify the employees involved;
- working hours ought to be from 8 am to 5 pm only;
- not more than 2 employees are allowed to be present at work in the management office at once;
- the management ought to implement prevention measures to protect its employees;
- social distancing ought to be practiced; and
- proper steps are required to be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Management Agents / Companies are allowed to operate however only when necessary and within the involvement of essential services. The list of Essential Services are listed as:
- critical management operation;
- water and electricity supply;
- telecommunication, sewage, cleaning , mechanical and electrical and refusal services; and
- security and medical services.
- The prohibition of all maintenance and rectification works unless it involves the safety of its residents or it has been critically damaged.
The imposition of the above rules are meant to be temporary, and are meant to encourage social distancing to address the current COVID-19 outbreak.
In respect of maintenance charges, the FAQ does not provide for the temporary halt in payments. In this connection, all proprietors ought to continue payment of their maintenance charges as these charges are not only for maintenance of common properties, but are for the continuous welfare of the entire strata scheme. Maintenance charges are statutory payments provided specifically under the Strata Titles Act and Strata Management Act. Default in payments may result in the management corporation filing an action against defaulting residents.
NB: This article is updated as of the date of publication stated above. As this situation is novel and the government’s response to the outbreak is continuously developing, this article may not necessarily include updates or developments after this date. In situations of doubt, you are advised to check for updates directly with the government authorities.
This article was written by Donovan Cheah and Zi-Han Lim. Donovan is an advocate and solicitor of the High Court of Malaya. He is a Fellow at the Singapore Institute of Arbitrators, the Malaysian Institute of Arbitrators, and the Asian Institute of Alternative Dispute Resolution. He is also a registered foreign lawyer with the Singapore International Commercial Court.
Donovan & Ho is a law firm in Malaysia. Our practice areas include employment law, dispute resolution, tax advisory and corporate advisory. Have a question? Please contact us.