MBPP’s guideline on short-term rental take immediate effect

Property News/ 30 May 2023 3 comments

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Penang Island City Council (MBPP) has recently established a guideline that prohibits all forms of short-term rental (STR) accommodation in residential units on the island. The ban, effective immediately, aims to regulate the STR industry and maintain the integrity of residential neighborhoods.

Under the new regulation, private residential properties are strictly forbidden from engaging in STR business. Only commercial high-rises are permitted to offer STR services, subject to stringent regulations. However, even commercial properties must obtain approval from their respective joint management bodies (JMBs) or management corporations (MCs) before commencing STR operations.

To gain approval, STR providers in commercial categories must secure a 75% majority vote from other residents during the annual general meeting. Additionally, JMBs and MCs are required to collect an annual fee ranging from RM250 to RM500 per unit, with new registration fees of up to RM250.

To ensure compliance, the MBPP mandates that all approved units must be registered with the council. Furthermore, property owners must provide documentation from the Companies Commission of Malaysia.

The implementation of this ban reflects the local government’s commitment to strike a balance between supporting tourism and preserving the residential character of the island. By channeling STR activities to commercial high-rises, Penang aims to mitigate potential disturbances and maintain a harmonious living environment for its residents.

Bukit Mertajam Digital Library set for completion next year

Property News/ 28 May 2023 No comments


Bukit Mertajam is set to embrace its first-ever digital library, bringing a new era of knowledge and connectivity to its residents. The Bukit Mertajam Digital Library will be housed in the three-story building of Jit Sin School Union Bukit Mertajam. Renovation works are scheduled to begin soon and are expected to be fully completed by 2024.

The initiative to establish the digital library arose from the proactive efforts of Jit Sin School Union Bukit Mertajam. Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow expressed his delight at the school union’s support for the state government’s mission to enhance human capital. Recognizing the potential of the digital library to benefit the community, Jit Sin School Union approached Chief Minister Incorporated (CMI) to form a collaborative partnership, resulting in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two parties in September of the previous year.

jit-sin-union-digital-library-groundbreakingThe collaboration between the state government and the non-governmental organization (NGO) represents a successful endeavor that will have a positive impact on the people of Penang, particularly the residents of Bukit Mertajam. The digital library will serve as a platform for information, creative knowledge, and technology, fostering connection and interaction among the local community. This venture aligns with the state government’s focus on promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education and positioning Penang as a leading center of excellence in this field.

However, the realization of the Bukit Mertajam Digital Library requires significant effort on the part of Jit Sin School Union. They are currently in the process of obtaining the necessary permits and approvals to upgrade and refurbish the existing premises. Chief Minister Chow assured his government’s support and assistance in facilitating the project’s progress.

Chow encouraged the people of Bukit Mertajam to extend their full support, including financial contributions, to Jit Sin School Union in their endeavor to establish the digital library. Once completed, the facility will be a valuable resource for students and professionals in the central Seberang Perai district. It represents a fundamental step in creating a smart technological ecosystem and fostering a knowledgeable community.

Datuk Ng Wah Sim, Chairman of Bukit Mertajam Digital Library committee, revealed that the estimated cost of the digital library is RM2.5 million. Through a fundraising event, they have already raised RM1.8 million, and the state government has provided a special allocation of RM300,000. However, additional financial support is needed to cover the remaining expenses. The approval of permits from the Seberang Perai City Council (MBSP) is pending, after which the upgrade and refurbishment work can commence. Ng expressed hope for an expedited approval process, as they are dedicated to adhering to CMI’s guidelines and aiming for completion by the following year.

The upcoming Bukit Mertajam Digital Library heralds a significant development for the town, bringing the benefits of digital resources and connectivity to its residents. The collaboration between Jit Sin School Union and the state government exemplifies the successful partnership between public and non-governmental sectors, working together to enrich the community’s access to knowledge and technology. With the support and contributions of the people, the digital library will become a vital hub for learning, innovation, and community engagement in Bukit Mertajam.

Ayer Itam – Tun Dr LCE Expressway bypass now 33% completed

Property News/ 28 May 2023 1 comment


In an update provided by the State Infrastructure and Transport Committee Chairman, Zairil Khir Johari, the construction of the Ayer Itam-Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu bypass (Package Two) in Penang is progressing well. As reported by TheStar newspaper, the project is currently at 33% completion, with an expected finish date in 2025.

Zairil mentioned that the project is slightly behind schedule by 2%, which is considered normal for such infrastructure projects. The alignment for Package Two is divided into six sections, with work currently underway on the first four. However, the progress on the remaining two sections is dependent on resolving land acquisition matters.

Speaking at the Hari Raya open house hosted by Consortium Zenith Construction (CZC) Sdn Bhd, Zairil stated that the land acquisition process involves federal land from seven ministries, including Health, Tourism, Finance, Education, Communications and Digital Ministry, Home Ministry, and Defence Ministry. Each plot of land has its own unique specifications, and the state has separate arrangements with each ministry.

Once the paperwork is completed and agreements are in place with the involved ministries, work will commence on all six sections of Package Two. This bypass project is part of the Penang Transport Master Plan and aims to enhance the island’s traffic dispersal system, which includes the proposed Penang Undersea Tunnel.

The toll-free road will stretch 6km, with 1.8km at ground level and the remaining sections elevated, including viaduct structures (65%), tunnels (20%), and grade sections (15%). The bypass will feature three interchanges, namely Lebuhraya Thean Teik, Jalan Bukit Gambir-Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah junction, and Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway, providing improved accessibility for motorists.

Once completed, the Ayer Itam-Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu bypass is expected to reduce travel time and bring long-term benefits to Penangites, especially the approximately 300,000 residents residing in Ayer Itam, Bandar Baru Ayer Itam, and Paya Terubong. This development marks an important step in enhancing transportation infrastructure in the region and improving the daily lives of local communities.

Foreign workers moving to hostel in Batu Maung

Property News/ 28 May 2023 No comments

Photo source: Google Street View

Flat dwellers in Penang’s Macallum Street Ghaut will be bidding adieu to some 600 foreigners when they move out to a hostel soon.

They will be vacating the Sri Saujana flats in stages.

Building manager KS Nirandaran said although the foreigners, who worked at multinational high-tech factories, were well behaved and got along well with the locals, the load of their presence did bear down on the Sri Saujana’s facilities such as the elevators and trash collections.

“As per regulations set by the Human Resources Ministry, only up to six foreign workers should live in a unit. But then, when hundreds are used, imagine how much wear and tear our elevators face, how many trash bins are needed for such a high population density, how many factory buses drive in to fetch them and how many hours must our water pumps send water to the roof tanks?”

The 600 will move into a dedicated hostel in Batu Maung, built a few years ago and comes equipped with 24-hour security and several in-house conveniences and recreational facilities.

Sri Saujana, built in 2009, has 2,208 units of about 650sq ft each and Nirandaran estimates that about 40% of them were rented out to factories or employment agencies that provided housing to workers.

Then, it was sold at RM42,000 for one unit. Now, the market price is RM210,000 to RM250,000, an appreciation of at least 500% in 14 years.

Pengkalan Kota assemblyman Daniel Gooi expressed gladness that the state government’s plans were relieving the population load in Macallum Street Ghaut.

“Now, unit owners lament their loss of rental income,” he said.

“Nonetheless, Macallum Street Ghaut will be quieter,” Gooi said.

Local resident and coconut juice seller S. Sangkaran, 60, said it was so hard to find vacant units in Macallum Street Ghaut.

“This place is close to the heart of George Town, so it is a strategic location,” he said.

“Outsiders often stop at my stall to ask if I knew units for rent. But owners don’t want to rent to locals. They want to rent to foreigners, who are willing to pay more,” he said.

Source: TheStar.com.my


From luxury condos to overcrowded quarters

Property News/ 28 May 2023 No comments

Sungai Ara terrace house

As Penang’s economy recovers and the need for labour intensifies, even RM1.25mil apartments are being converted into workers’ quarters.

And their neighbours are unhappy.

To buy one, these nearly 2,000 sq ft apartments command RM1.25mil on property websites. To rent, it is RM1,500 to RM2,800 a month, depending on the furnishings.

With only two units a floor, four rooms in each, they are spacious homes in a low density block.

Recently, 14 workers were moved into one of the units. If we estimate a rent of RM2,000, add RM500 for utilities, and divide that by 14, the cost is RM178 a worker.

We learned that these workers serve at a successful restaurant in a prime shopping complex here.

The apartment is located in the Pulau Tikus suburb, beside the Gurney Drive neighbourhood.

Their workplace is 500m away. Across the street from their apartment are two banks. The post office is less than 100m down the road. The Pulau Tikus market is 250m away.

About 300m away is Wat Chayamangkalaram, a tourist attraction that has one of the longest reclining Buddha statues in the world.

Some of the best char koay teow, Hokkien mee, chicken rice, and nasi kandar available on the island are within a 10-minute stroll from the apartment complex.

Its management committee (MC) and building management company tried urging owners to stop (or be stopped from) renting their units out to whoever houses foreign workers. They even wrote to the Human Resources Ministry and Penang Island City Council’s Commissioner of Buildings.

The day the workers moved in, the MC chairman, who declined to be named, said the pump that sends water to the rooftop tanks worked overtime. “I could hear the pump groaning late into the night.

“Every other unit has only two to five residents and some only come back to stay during the holidays,” he said.

Of the four rooms, three had four beds each – double-deckers – while the fourth and smaller room had two beds. There were standing fans near the beds.

The MC chairman rang up Pulau Tikus assemblyman Chris Lee, who promptly met the committee to discuss a way forward.

Lee said all apartment owners should comply with the shared house rules of the property and urged MCs to study these provisions to make changes accordingly.

“If foreign workers or any other residents become a nuisance, then the police can be contacted to look into the matter. Employers are required by law to provide decent housing for their foreign workers.

“These workers form the backbone of our economy. We cannot say we want progress and yet don’t want foreign workers,” he stressed.

Lee said the state government’s long-term plan is to facilitate the development of dedicated foreign workers’ residential complexes.

“As a progressive state, we want foreign workers to have a comfortable stay.

“The state government has been working hard to facilitate the construction of proper, contained workers hostels to prevent disruptions to Penangites’ lives.

“Penangites must understand that growing our economy is important to stay competitive. Growing our economy to the point of no longer needing foreign workers will take time,” he added.

In the Sungai Ara neighbourhood of landed houses, seven out of 75 three-storey homes were housing 30 foreign workers each.

State housing and local government committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said the state had approved several workers’ hostel developments and is studying proposals for more.

“We understand the need for locals to have minimal social disruptions as we progress. We also empathise with the need of businesses to have proper housing for their foreign workers,” he said.

“Penang is growing fast. We are working as fast as we practicably can to ensure all needs are met.”

Source: TheStar.com.my