Rising property prices relative to income level, and the mismatch between supply and demand has caused an overhang situation in the property market. This is not a new issue, and the government has taken various initiatives to solve the problem. Among them is the construction of affordable homes to serve the people’s needs. But, are low-cost homes the solution to the problem? Shockingly for some, getting a low-cost home could be problematic.
Affordable high-rise units are notorious for being poorly maintained. Since those who purchase such affordable homes are from the B40 category, many cannot afford or are reluctant to pay their maintenance fees.
The usual results are broken lifts, puddled urine on the floor, accompanied by lewd drawing or graffiti, garbage along walkways and many others. These problems create a condition that is unsuitable for living, which goes against the primary purpose of building affordable homes in the first place.
An uphill struggle
The lift at one of the low-cost flats has been rendered useless as vandals have damaged the switches.
According to research done by the International Conference on Applied Electronic and Engineering 2017, an alarming 0.2% of respondents gave a satisfied and strongly satisfied response with regards to the lifts in affordable high-rise units.
This is based on research done through a total of 700 sets of questionnaires distributed to all the occupants of low-cost, high-rise housing in Selangor, with 510 sets of questionnaires returned.
Generally, affordable high-rise developments have a high density, and a few lifts serve them. Higher density results in a higher frequency of lift usage, translating to frequent lift spoilage. Since maintenance is terrible at best, residents living on the top floor are forced to use the stairs.
Not all doom and gloom
The most positive response was pegged at 37.8% with these respondents being able to enjoy non-leakage from their roofs during downpours, which is a common occurrence in Malaysia.
Surprisingly, crime was considered low in such areas, and 37.6% of respondents said that they are satisfied with the safety. The result may have been possible due to the close-knitted yet highly populated zone where natural surveillance increases the risk and perceived risk for an offender to be caught.
The problems associated with affordable high-rise units are mostly tied to the inability of residents to pay their maintenance fees. Laws and regulations may be enforced, but we cannot make a person pay for something if he or she cannot afford it. This issue is on a deeper level, and it can only be truly solved via a combination of legal, social and economic reforms.
Avoidance is the best cure
For those house buyers aiming for affordable high-rises units, risk can be mitigated by purchasing developments that are no more than five stories high with basic facilities. Such developments usually do not come with lifts, which incur a higher maintenance fee that the majority of residents are unable or unwilling to pay. Such apartments are also easier to maintain and clean. Or better, you could also opt for an affordable landed house, but such developments are usually remotely located, which presents another set of complications.