The Strata Management Tribunal is established and regulated 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. Resolving disputes efficiently
The Strata Management Tribunal was established to resolve strata management related disputes with efficiency, cost effectiveness and speed.
Under the Strata Management Act 2015, the Tribunal is required to make its Award without delay and where practicable, within 60 days from the first day of the hearing. Its Client Charter includes the aim to settle a claim within 150 working days.
The jurisdiction of the Strata Management Tribunal includes:
- Monetary claims not exceeding RM250,000;
- Disputes or complaints concerning an exercise or the performance of, or the failure to exercise or perform, a function, duty or power conferred or imposed by the Strata Management Act 2015 and subsidiary legislation made under the Strata Management Act 2015;
- Disputes on costs or repairs in respect of a defect in a strata parcel, building or land intended for subdivision and its common property (subject to subsection 16n(2) of the Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Act 1966);
- Claims for the recovery of outstanding maintenance charges and sinking fund contributions;
- Claims for an order to convene a general meeting;
- Claims for an order to invalidate proceedings of meeting where any provision of the Strata Management Act 2015 has been contravened;
- Claims for an order to nullify a resolution where voting rights has been denied or where due notice has not been given;
- Claims for an order to nullify a resolution passed at a general meeting;
- Claims for an order to revoke amendment of by-laws having regard to the interests of all the parcel owners;
- Claims for an order to vary the rate of interest fixed for late payment of maintenance charges and sinking fund contributions;
- Claims for an order to vary the amount of insurance to be provided;
- Claims for an order to pursue an insurance claim;
- Claims for compelling a developer, joint management body or management corporation to supply information or documents;
- Claims for an order to give consent to effect alterations to any common property; and
- Claims for an order to affirm, vary or revoke the Commissioner’s decision.
The Strata Management Tribunal has the power to:
- Order a party to pay a sum of money to another party;
- Order the price or other consideration paid by a party to be refunded to that party;
- Order the payment of compensation or damages for any loss or damage suffered by a party;
- Order the rectification, setting aside or variation of a contract or additional by-laws, wholly or in part;
- Order costs of not more than RM5,000;
- Order interest at a rate not more than 8% per annum;
- Dismiss a claim which it considers to be frivolous or vexatious;
- Make any order of which it has the jurisdiction to make or any other order as it deems just and expedient; and
- Make such ancillary or consequential orders or relief as may be necessary to give effect to any order made by the Tribunal.
4. Parties who can file a claim
The following persons and entities are entitled to file a claim in the Strata Management Tribunal:
- Parcel owner;
- Proprietor, including an original proprietor;
- Joint Management Body (JMB);
- Management Corporation (MC);
- Subsidiary Management Corporation;
- Managing agent; and
- Any other interested person, with the leave of the Tribunal.
5. Open to public
All proceedings of the Strata Management Tribunal are open to the public.
6. No legal representation
By default, parties are not allowed to be represented by lawyers at Strata Management Tribunal proceedings. However, the Tribunal may allow legal representation if:
- The case involves complex issues of law; and
- One party will suffer severe financial hardship otherwise.
If one party is allowed legal representation by the Tribunal, the other party will also be allowed the right to legal representation.
Although lawyers may not ordinarily be allowed to speak on behalf of a party during the Tribunal proceedings, a party either pursuing or defending a Tribunal claim can and should still seek legal advice and assistance. Lawyers may be engaged to assist a party with the formulation of a claim or defence and the preparation of the forms, cause papers and submissions to be filed in the Tribunal.
7. Awards and adjournments
If the respondent to a Tribunal claim fails to file a Statement of Defence, the Tribunal may proceed to make an award in favour of the claimant on the hearing date.
Alternatively, the Tribunal may also (i) adjourn the hearing in its discretion to enable the respondent to file the Statement of Defence or (ii) allow the respondent to submit his defence orally and proceed with the hearing.
If either party is absent during the Tribunal hearing, the Tribunal may proceed with the hearing, adjourn the hearing to a later date, or make an order or award as it thinks appropriate.
8. Non-compliance of Award is a criminal offence
The failure to comply with a Tribunal Award is a criminal offence under the Strata Management Act 2015. If found guilty and convicted, a person may be liable to a fine not exceeding RM250,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years or to both. For a continuing offence, there will be a further fine not exceeding RM5,000 for every day or part thereof.
In July 2020, the Subang Jaya Municipal Council through its Commissioner of Buildings (COB) prosecuted a parcel owner for failure to comply with a Tribunal Award to pay outstanding maintenance charges. The Subang Jaya Magistrate’s Court convicted the parcel owner and imposed a fine of RM5,500.
9. Award may be executed
A Tribunal Award is deemed to be an order of the civil Court and can be enforced accordingly by any party to the proceedings. If the Award has not been complied with, the Tribunal Secretary shall send a copy of the Award to the Court and the Court shall cause a copy of the Award to be recorded (also known as Ingkar Award). Thereafter, the party in breach of the Award may be liable to execution proceedings including:
- Committal proceedings (Contempt of court);
- Judgment Debtor Summons; and
- Garnishee proceedings.
10. Award may be challenged by judicial review
A party who is dissatisfied with the Tribunal’s Award may file an application for judicial review in the High Court to challenge the said Award. The application for judicial review must be filed within three (3) months from the date of the Tribunal Award. The judicial review application will succeed if the applicant can show serious irregularity affecting the Award. “Serious irregularity” means an irregularity of one or more of the following kinds which the High Court considers has caused substantial injustice to the applicant:
- Failure by the Tribunal to act fairly and impartially between the parties;
- Failure by the Tribunal to deal with all the relevant issues; and
- Uncertainty or ambiguity as to the effect of the Award.
Parties can and should engage lawyers to advise and represent them in the judicial review proceedings at the High Court.
By John Chan