BY Roznah Abdul Jabbar
A long-running heated debate on who has the right to manage buildings has now spilled over into a much larger question: which ministry should rightfully govern building management activities?
This was sparked by Ministry of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government’s (KPKT) recent proactive move to set up a dedicated board for building managers under its purview, in order to introduce proper statutory standards and empower property managers.
While lauded by some, the move has attracted criticism by others – most notably, members of the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents (BVAEA), which falls under the purview of the Ministry of Finance (MOF).
The BVAEA argues that property management activities fall under their jurisdiction as stipulated by the Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act.
However, associations such as the Building Management Association Malaysia (BMAM) contend that the BVAEA unfairly limits property management to a certain set of professionals when there are many more qualified to do the job and are already actively engaged in property management.
In response to our April 1 article entitled “Building management board a bad idea?”, BMAM said that an independent body is needed because it is an undeniable fact that all matters pertaining to stratified properties fall under the jurisdiction of the Commissioner of Buildings (COB), which falls under KPKT.
Its president Tan Sri Datuk Eddy Chen said that despite BMAM’s effort to uplift the proficiency and status of building and property managers, the challenge remains in sustaining an orderly and well-regulated sector.
“This is why we have urged KPKT to set up the board, so that proper statutory standards and operations can be streamlined to provide consistent quality services that strata property owners deserve,” he said.
In a statement, BMAM told Real Spaces that there are currently more than 1.5 million stratified residential units and the numbers are growing
“Together with the growth of stratified non-residential properties, the role and the growth of the building management profession must be in tandem with the needs and expectations of all stakeholders,” the association said.
BMAM said it fully supports legislation to regulate the Building Management Profession in Malaysia through the setting-up of the Board of Building Managers Malaysia (BBM) under KPKT, which oversees and controls the Local Authorities and the COB.
BBM is to set standards for the profession and to keep a register of competence and suitably qualified property managers whilst at the same time to ensure that errant managers are dealt with expediently so that no building is neglected and left without a proper manager.
“The other important function of the board will be to provide ongoing educational and training opportunities to continuously upgrade the knowledge and skills of property managers,” BMAM said.
Chen said that all buildings, from the planning, construction and mvanagement stages are under the purview of KPKT and it is only logical and appropriate that building management functions and all practitioners be under the same purview inter alia under the purview of the COB and ultimately under BBM.
He said that KPKT has appropriately enacted the Strata Management Act 2013 and the accompanying Strata Management Regulations incorporating the COB to supervise and regulate the management and maintenance of stratified buildings.
The role of the COB is to function as a regulatory and enforcement agency of KPKT and to set the parameters for community living and to provide the logistical framework for dispute resolution between parcel owners and their respective management corporations which appoint building managers.
However, former Director-General of the Valuation and Property Services Department (JPPH) Datuk Mani Usilappan recently criticised the BBM as not being “in the best interest of all parties in the industry” and “illogical”.
“The call for a separate board for property management does not arise from a separate need for one; it is to distinguish and separate the people who manage the board,” he said.
He said that about 20 years ago there was a call for the registration of property managers and the BVAEA answered the call by expanding its register to property managers.
“Underlying this was the fact that at that point of time, the property management functions was clearly within the legal and lawful ambit of the registered valuer,” he said quoting Section 21 (c) of the Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act.
Hence, he said, it was only logical to separate the property management function from that of the valuer for the purpose of a separate register, notwithstanding the fact that the educational and professional training for both professions are the same.
He warned against those who wish to treat property management as if it were a business rather than a well-regulated profession.
“The only reason I can think of why the call for the separate board and separate ministry is that ‘they’ want to control it,” Mani said.
He said the motives of those who wish to have a separate board need to be looked into as well as their qualification level, and ability and skill to successfully engage in the practice of property management.