DAP man helps home buyer win tribunal case, developer to compensate for late delivery

DAP Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen

KUCHING, April 24: Sim Kiat Leng, who is the assistant to Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen, had assisted a home buyer in winning a case against a housing developer in the Kuching High Court and obtaining an order requiring the developer to make full payment of the late delivery damages.

According to Chong’s statement, the home buyer, known as Madam Pui, purchased her house from the developer in 2015. However, there was a delay in the completion and delivery of the house to her by the developer.

“She claimed damages for late delivery in the Tribunal for Housing Purchaser’s Claims Sarawak and won against the developer.

“The developer filed a case in the Kuching High Court to challenge the Tribunal’s decision by claiming that there was a ‘previous agreement’ to extend the time for delivery,” he said.

He stated that the Kuching High Court ruled yesterday that no agreement can be valid to vary the rights of home buyers to have their houses completed and delivered to them within 24 months from the date of the Agreement.

He went on to say that as a result, the so-called ‘previous agreement’ to extend the time for delivery was ruled invalid by the Court, and the developer was ordered to pay the late delivery damages.

“When the legislators passed the Housing Development Ordinance to provide 24 months for the completion of a house by a housing developer, the legislators considered the reasonableness of such a time for developers to complete their homes.

“The legislators have also considered the interest of a home buyer, having paid a substantial portion of the purchase price, should not be made to wait any longer than 24 months to have their houses completed without compensation,” he added.

Chong, who is also Padungan assemblyman, explained that in normal commercial transactions between parties, the intentions and agreed terms of the parties to an agreement will always be upheld by the court, but this is not the case when it comes to developers and home buyers which the Housing Development Ordinance regulated.

“Such preferential treatment of the law favouring home buyers is because an individual home buyer has a weaker bargaining power than a developer in most circumstances.

“Very often, individual home buyers may unknowingly or are economically compelled to enter certain unfavourable terms vis-à-vis a developer who has the stronger financial strength and legal team.

“As such, the Housing Development Ordinance was enacted primarily to protect the interest of home buyers,” he clarified.

Chong pointed out that yesterday’s High Court judgement effectively nullified any private agreement purporting to vary the terms stipulated in the Housing Development Ordinance and contract out the law’s obligations.

He added that in the present case, the so-called “agreement” was to give the developer a longer period to deliver the house, and such agreement was held to be invalid as it goes against the provision of the law, and the developer was ordered to pay damages as if there was no such agreement.

“In the interest of protecting home buyers, we in DAP Sarawak are all in support of such a position taken by the court.

“This judgement will enforce the full intention of the legislators to give protection to home buyers and stop all future attempts by any developer of taking advantage of their stronger market power at the expense of a normal home buyer,” Chong remarked. — DayakDaily