Facing the disruption wrought upon by the novel coronavirus is akin to treading through uncharted waters. Nevertheless, the Malaysian Government has done considerably well in “flattening the curve” through its swift and pragmatic implementation of the Movement Control Order (“MCO”).
As the prime defence, strict social distancing measures have been implemented with minor variations along the way.
The obvious rule of the MCO is “isolation” which is to stay within the compounds of your own home. People who unknowingly go for a “harmless” jog around the “taman” would soon learn the gravity of the phrase “stay home and stay safe” from authorities.
However, interpretation of that rule to strata property owners and managers may not be so straightforward- as their ownership and responsibility extends to the common spaces and facilities within the strata development.
On this note, our Ministry of Housing and Local Government ("KPKT") has issued guidelines (refer to KPKT FAQ) covering the management of strata development schemes during the MCO period.
We have summarised a few important points from the guidelines below:
Do I have to continue paying my maintenance fees and sinking funds?
Under the Strata Management Act 2013, payment for maintenance fees and sinking funds are mandatory. You may however discuss instalment payments with the management during this MCO period.
Can I or other residents, management staff, essential service staff move freely within the development scheme?
Communities within a residential or commercial strata scheme are not allowed free movement within the stratified common area during the MCO period. For residential strata scheme, all movements are to be restricted while practising social distancing unless it involves critical or essential services, such as medical, cleaning and supply of food.
However for commercial strata schemes such as office buildings, staff providing essential services must wear face masks and reduce their movements in and out of the building, unless it is a critical matter. Offices carrying out essential services should report to the management office to gain access into and out of the building and for their supervision.
Can I still go for a swim or use the gym?
Common facilities such as the hall, gym, badminton court and swimming pool shall not be rented or used during the MCO period. Occupants are not allowed to take part in outdoor activities such as exercising or jogging within a strata scheme and they are required to stay within their respective residential premises and practice social distancing throughout the MCO period.
Are the shops/businesses within the strata development scheme allowed to open?
All commercial premises, educational institutions and nurseries have to be closed during the MCO period except for essential services. Only businesses that fall under the essential services category are allowed to operate in a commercial strata scheme such as office buildings. If there are non-essential services operating, it has to be reported to the nearest police station.
Can the management, management agent or property management still operate during the MCO?
The management office is allowed to operate from 8am to 5pm only for the provision of essential services. During the MCO period the office shall be closed and the public are not allowed to have access to the management office to prevent the spread of Covid-19. There shall not be more than 2 staff at work at any given time.
The measures to be taken by the management, management agent or property management while operating during the MCO period are:
to issue a letter confirming the bearer as their staff;
to ensure that the operating hours are from 8am to 5pm;
to ensure that there are not more than 2 staff at work at any given time during operations;
to ensure that for the safety of their staff, active measures have been taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19;
to practice social distancing of not less than one metre from each other, to take active measures to control the spread of Covid-19 and to conduct sanitisation;
to take measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 for the safety and wellbeing of their staff, service providers, occupants and others in line with government directives; and
renovation works cannot be undertaken during the MCO period.
Can management committee meetings still take place?
Yes but only via remote measures i.e. tele-conference. Physical gatherings are not allowed.
Can I still rent out my property via Airbnb?
All activities involving short term rental accommodation such as Airbnb or other operators are not allowed to operate within the residential strata scheme during the MCO period.
What kind of services shall continue to be provided?
Critical services such as water, electricity, security, cleaning and maintenance of lifts and pump can continue to operate. Pest control operators are allowed to enter the premises in a strata scheme to provide its services.
What kind of service providers can still enter the area?
Postmen, courier or delivery riders (FoodPanda, Grabfood, etc) are allowed to enter up to the security guardhouse or security counter after passing the temperature test. Postmen are however allowed to enter the mailbox room. Delivery persons with body temperatures above 38 degrees Celsius are not allowed to deliver their goods.
Repairs works, for instance of leaking pipe is not allowed. Repair works can only be done if it is critical and affects the safety of the occupants. Urgent repair works are allowed to be carried out if there is a leaking pipe or short circuit that causes interruption or suspension to the supply, as this will affect a person's daily life during the MCO period.
Can I still have visitors?
No visitors are allowed to enter a residential strata scheme except in the following situations where only the children or siblings of the occupant or the caregiver are allowed to visit when necessary:
an occupant who is a senior citizen, staying alone and requires monitoring;
an occupant who is a patient (not a patient with Covid-19 or any other diseases that require notification under Section 10 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988) or who is weak and requires constant monitoring;
an occupant who requires immediate medical intervention;
death in the occupants premises which is not due to Covid-19 or any other diseases requiring notification under Section 10 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988; and
the said visitors are only allowed to enter the residential strata scheme after they have passed a body temperature test. Any visitor with temperatures above 38 degrees Celsius shall not be permitted to enter the residential strata scheme.
At the end of the day, the outcome of this pandemic rests greatly on our ability and sensibility to carry ourselves as responsible and considerate citizens, so- stay home and stay safe.
This article is not intended as nor does it substitute for legal advice. If you have any queries or require legal advice, please contact Nirmala Devi A/P Munusamy at email@example.com or through any of our general lines.