by Choo Dee Wei
Published October 1, 2017
Apartment owners, living in a high rise may be fraught with difficulties such as unsatisfactory living conditions, issues with developers and so on. Where then are such grievances ventilated?
Enter the Strata Management Tribunal (“the Tribunal”).
A tribunal is, in simple terms, a court or forum created by law, to decide on disputes. In this instance:
The Tribunal has the power/jurisdiction to hear and determine claims that relate to strata properties (as set out in Part 1 of the 4th Schedule to the Strata Management Act).
These disputes mainly concern the functions, duties or powers by the Strata Management Act, claims for recovery of maintenance charges or contributions to the sinking fund, and claims to vary the rate of interest fixed for late payment of maintenance charges.
By law, the total amount to be claimed cannot exceed RM250,000.00.
Those entitled to file a claim at the Tribunal are only developers, purchasers, proprietors, joint management bodies, management corporations, subsidiary management corporations, managing agents and any other interested person (with leave of the Tribunal).
I set out the steps leading to the hearing or negotiation before the Tribunal.
The Claimant files a claim using Form 1, which:
contains the amount and particulars of the claim; and
is to be signed or thumb-printed, if the Claimant is an individual, or signed by an authorised person together with his full name and affixed with the company’s official stamp, or common seal if the Claimant is a corporation or an unincorporated body of persons.
The Claimant files 4 copies of the completed Form 1 at the Tribunal. The filing fee is RM100.00 (as at 01.08.2017) for residential claims, or RM200.00 (as at 01.08.2017) for commercial/industrial claims. And If there is more than 1 respondent, an additional copy is made for every additional respondent.
After filing the duly completed Form 1, the Secretary seals the completed Form 1 with the seal of the Tribunal, dates and signs it. The Secretary will keep 2 copies of Form 1 and return the rest to the Claimant.
Step 2: The Claimant serves 1 copy of the signed and sealed Form 1 on the Respondent or each respondent within 14 days from the date Form 1 was issued by the Tribunal, where:
The signed and sealed copy of Form 1 shall be valid for 30 days from the date the Tribunal issues it.
Service of document shall be personally, by registered post, or by attaching it at a prominent part of the last-known address. Service can also be by e-mail or other electronic means.
Step 3: When the Claimant serves the signed and sealed Form 1 upon the Respondent (s), the Respondent has 14 days to rebut or even make a counterclaim against the Claimant.
The Respondent rebuts/counterclaims by completing Form 2. This form contains:
admissions to the claim, if the Respondent admits so;
particulars as to why the Respondent disputes the claim, if he so disputes it;
particulars of the counterclaim, if the Respondent has one; and
a signature or thumb-print, if the Respondent is an individual, or the signature of an authorised person with his full name and the company’s official stamp/common seal if the Respondent is a corporation or an unincorporated body of persons.
The Respondent files 4 copies of the completed Form 2 at the Tribunal where the filing fee is 100.00 (as at 01.08.2017) for residential claims or 200.00 (as at 01.08.2017) for commercial/industrial claims. If there is more than 1 claimant, an additional copy is made for every additional claimant.
After filing the completed Form 2, the Secretary seals the Form 2, dates and sign it. The Secretary keeps 2 copies of it, and returns the rest to the Respondent.
If there is a counterclaim by the Respondent, the Claimant completes, files and serves Form 3 in the manner and time period that applies for Form 1 and Form 2.
The filing fee is 50.00 (as at 01.08.2017) for residential claims or 100.00 (as at 01.08.2017) for commercial/industrial claims.
Step 5: When a claim is filed with the Tribunal, the Secretary will classify the claim either for ‘negotiation’ or ‘hearing’:
If the claim is fixed for hearing, the Secretary will issue to both Claimant and Respondent a notice of hearing in Form 4, specifying the date, place and time of hearing.
If the claim is fixed for negotiation, the Secretary will issue a notice of hearing in Form 5 for the date, place and time of negotiation.
In my next article, I will detail out what transpires at a tribunal hearing.