By SAKINI MOHD SAID
KUALA LUMPUR: While visiting a friend who was hospitalised recently, I overheard a conversation between one of the patients and her daughter.
The patient, who was probably in her 50s, was speaking rather loudly. “Mak (mother) is worried about one of the tenants of our flat. He has threatened to report to DBKL (Kuala Lumpur City Hall) that we are renting out our flat to outsiders.
“Mak told him to pay his rental but he, instead, threatened me. He hasn’t been paying (rental) for so many months,” she was heard grumbling to her daughter, not realising that she was letting the whole ward know of her illegal activity.
Yes, it is illegal for people who are allowed to reside in houses built under the government’s People’s Housing Programme (PPR) — which caters to those in the low-income group — to rent out their units to third parties. In the case of this woman, the rooms in her unit have been sublet to others.
To be fair, the woman in question was probably eligible for the PPR unit when she acquired it but over the years her family’s financial status must have improved and they shifted to a more comfortable house. But, obviously, she did not hand over her PPR unit to DBKL as was required of her.
Some people may be thinking that these “third parties” have the gall to rent the PPR units when they know very well it is an offence to do so.
The truth is some of them are willing to take the risk as they either cannot afford to rent a house elsewhere or are just taking advantage of the situation.
This issue of “renting a rented” PPR unit is not new and it has existed for some time now. All this is due to the greed of a few tenants who are out to make a quick profit.
By right, the PPR is aimed at providing needy people, who have landed jobs in the midst of the rapidly-developing capital city, with a roof over their heads. These low-cost housing units are not an investment tool!
For the record, there are two categories of PPR: PPR ‘Disewa’ (rented) and PPR ‘Dimiliki’ (owned).
According to the National Housing Department website, PPR ‘Disewa’ was introduced in February 2002 and its objective was to rent out the units to people in the low-income group and squatters at RM94 to RM124 a month.
PPR ‘Dimiliki’, on the other hand, was introduced to enable the B40 group to buy the units at RM35,000 (Peninsular Malaysia) and RM42,000 (Sabah and Sarawak).
Nowhere else in Kuala Lumpur can one rent a house at between RM94 and RM124 a month. The rental of a room alone can hit RM300. No wonder there is such a high demand for PPR units.
According to Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad, DBKL has in its waiting list the names of 25,000 applicants who are eligible for PPR and Public Housing units. They have to wait because, currently, there are no vacant units left.
Hence, it is not fair when the so-called tenants of these units move out and sublet their flats to others. The authorities must check such immoral behaviour because it can lead to various other problems. Due to the greed of the original tenant, other more deserving people are denied what is rightfully theirs.
Some of these unscrupulous “tenants” are known to rent out their PPR units at RM500 a month and even up to RM1,200 a month if furnished.
Minister of Housing and Local Government Zuraida Kamaruddin is aware of this issue and has warned that action would be taken against those who misuse their PPR units.
“The rental agreement for the PPR units clearly bars the tenant from subletting the rooms or handing over the entire unit to others.
“Those found flouting the agreement will be given a rental termination notice by the state government or local authority,” media reports quoted the minister as saying.
Those who have purchased the PPR units are also not allowed to rent out their houses.
According to Zuraida, the sale and purchase agreement for the PPR units stipulates that the buyer must reside in the house and he/she cannot lease it out to others.
Those convicted of violating this condition face a jail term of up to three years or a fine under the Statutory Declarations Act 1960.
Where this issue is concerned, it is pertinent that the local authorities concerned carry out audits regularly to ensure that rented or purchased PPR units are not misused.
PPR scheme residents should also extend their cooperation by reporting to the local authority if they come across units that are illegally rented out.
And, tenants who are no longer eligible for the PPR units should be honest and give up their units so that the houses can be given to those who truly deserve them.
This commentary expresses the personal views of the writer and is not reflective of Bernama’s stand on the matter.