10 things to know about the Strata Management Tribunal – Real Estate

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The Strata Management Tribunal is established and governed by the (i) Strata Management Act 2015 (Act 757) and the (ii) Strata Management (Strata Management Tribunal) Regulations 2015 respectively, which came into force on 1 June 2015.

Here are 10 essential things to know about the Strata Management Tribunal:

1. Effectively resolve disputes

The Condominium Management Tribunal was created to resolve disputes related to the management of condominiums efficiently, cost-effectively and quickly.

Under the Strata Management Act 2015, the Tribunal is required to render its award without delay and, if possible, within 60 days of the first day of the hearing. Its Customer Charter includes the objective of settling a claim within 150 working days.

2. Jurisdiction

The jurisdiction of the Strata Management Tribunal includes:

  • Monetary claims not exceeding RM250,000;

  • Disputes or complaints relating to the exercise or performance, or failure to exercise or perform, of any function, duty or power conferred or imposed by the Strata Management Act 2015 and subsidiary legislation taken under the Strata Management Act 2015;

  • Disputes over costs or remedies in respect of a defect in any plot, building or condominium land intended for subdivision and its common ownership (subject to section 16n(2) of the Housing Development (Control) Act 1966 and licenses) );

  • Claims for recovery of unpaid maintenance charges and sinking fund contributions;

  • Requests for an order convening a general meeting;

  • Claims for an order invalidating the deliberations of the meeting where a provision of the Strata Management Act 2015 has been breached;

  • Claims for an order rescinding a resolution where the right to vote has been denied or where proper notice has not been given;

  • Claims for an order rescinding a resolution passed at a general meeting;

  • Claims for a revocation order of modification of the regulations having regard to the interests of all the owners of parcels;

  • Claims for an order to vary the interest rate fixed for the late payment of maintenance charges and sinking fund contributions;

  • Requests for orders to vary the amount of insurance to be provided;

  • Claims for an order to pursue an insurance claim;

  • Complaints for having compelled a developer, co-management or management company to provide information or documents;

  • Claims for an order giving consent to make alterations to any common property; and

  • Applications for an order confirming, varying or revoking the commissioner’s decision.

3. Powers

The Strata Management Tribunal has the power to:

  • Order a party to pay a sum of money to another party;

  • Order that the price or any other consideration paid by a party be reimbursed to that party;

  • Order the payment of compensation or damages for any loss or damage suffered by a party;

  • Order the rectification, cancellation or modification of a contract or additional regulations, in whole or in part;

  • Order costs not exceeding RM5,000;

  • Order interest at a rate not exceeding 8% per annum;

  • dismiss a claim that it deems frivolous or vexatious;

  • Make any order it has jurisdiction to make or any other order it deems just and expedient; and

  • Make any incidental or consequential orders or measures necessary to give effect to any order made by the Tribunal.

4. Parties Who Can File a Complaint

The following persons and entities have the right to file a claim with the Strata Management Tribunal:

  • Developer;

  • Buyer;

  • Parcel owner;

  • Owner, including an original owner;

  • Joint management body (JMB);

  • Management Company (MC);

  • Subsidiary management company;

  • Managing Agent; and

  • Any other interested person, with the authorization of the Court.

5. Open to the public

All Strata Management Tribunal proceedings are open to the public.

6. No Legal Representation

By default, parties are not permitted to be represented by attorneys in Strata Management Tribunal proceedings. However, the Tribunal may authorize legal representation if:

  • The case involves complex legal issues; and

  • Otherwise, one party will experience severe financial hardship.

If a party is permitted to be represented by counsel by the Tribunal, the other party shall also be entitled to be represented by counsel.

Although attorneys are generally not permitted to speak on behalf of a party during proceedings before the Tribunal, a party prosecuting or defending a claim before the Tribunal can and should always seek legal advice and assistance. Lawyers can be hired to help a party make a claim or defense and prepare forms, file documents and make submissions to the Tribunal.

7. Awards and Deferrals

If the respondent to a request from the Tribunal fails to file a statement of defence, the Tribunal may proceed to a decision in favor of the applicant on the date of the hearing.

Alternatively, the Court may also (i) adjourn the hearing at its discretion to allow the defendant to file the statement of defense or (ii) allow the defendant to present his defense orally and continue the hearing.

If either party is absent at the Tribunal hearing, the Tribunal may proceed with the hearing, adjourn the hearing to a later date, or make such order or award as it deems appropriate.

8. Failure to comply with the sentence is a criminal offense

Failure to comply with a Tribunal award is a criminal offense under the Strata Management Act 2015. If found guilty and sentenced, a person may be liable to a fine not exceeding RM250,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or both. For continued violation, there will be an additional fine not exceeding RM5,000 for each day or part thereof.

In July 2020, Subang Jaya City Council, through its Buildings Commissioner (COB), sued a landowner for failing to comply with a court order to pay unpaid maintenance fees. The Subang Jaya Magistrate’s Court convicted the owner of the plot and fined him RM5,500.

9. The sentence can be executed

A court award is deemed to be a civil court order and may be enforced accordingly by any party to the proceeding. If the award has not been complied with, the secretary of the court will send a copy of the award to the Court and the Court will register a copy of the award (also known as the Ingkar Award). Subsequently, the party in breach of the Award may be subject to enforcement proceedings including:

  • Bankruptcy;

  • Liquidation;

  • Remand proceedings (contempt of court);

  • summons of judgment debtor; and

  • Garnishment procedure.

10. The award can be challenged by judicial review

A party who is dissatisfied with the Tribunal’s award may file an application for judicial review with the High Court challenging the award. The application for judicial review must be filed within three (3) months of the date of the Tribunal’s decision. The application for judicial review will be accepted if the applicant can demonstrate a serious irregularity affecting the award. “Serious Irregularity” means an irregularity of one or more of the following types which the High Court finds has caused substantial injustice to the claimant:

  • Failure of the Tribunal to act fairly and impartially between the parties;

  • Tribunal’s failure to address all relevant issues; and

  • Uncertainty or ambiguity as to the effect of the award.

Parties can and should engage solicitors to advise and represent them in judicial review proceedings in the High Court.

First published by MahWengKwai & Associates (July 26, 2022)

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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