Malaysia

Under pressure, City Hall cuts property assessment rate

BY MUZLIZA MUSTAFA
December 19, 2013

City Hall has climbed down from a drastic hike in assessment rates next year, saying the rates have been reduced by 1-4% following widespread protests by property owners in Kuala Lumpur.

Owners of commercial properties will pay 10%, while residential property owners will be charged 4%. Previously, the applied rates for these owners, who make up the bulk of ratepayers, were 12% and 6% respectively.

Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor (pic), in announcing the new rates, said they vary depending on the location of the properties.

"Properties within a 36-mile radius of Kuala Lumpur will have a different set of rates compared with those outside the radius," Tengku Adnan said at a press conference at City Hall headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

He said rebates will be given to a special group of property owners, namely the disabled, retirees and owners staying on their own property.

"They can fill in the application forms that can be obtained from payment counters at City Hall offices and return them with supporting documents," he said.

Asked how owners should show proof that they are living on their property instead of renting them out, Tengku Adnan said the responsibility lies on the people.

"We will take it in good faith because as far as DBKL is concerned, if you cheat us, you are cheating God," he said.

Tengku Adnan said although he agreed with the City Hall move to conduct property rental valuation, he has asked the council to make sure that the rate imposed would not burden property owners.

"Because of this, after reading through some of the objections that we received, we decided to announce the new rates as well as related information," said Tengku Adnan.

He said City Hall has received so far 153,187 letters from unhappy property owners.

"An eight-member committee comprising experts from various fields will hear all the complaints from the owners. Although we have allocated three months to hear all their grouses, we hope that it can be completed in three weeks," said Tengku Adnan.

He said property owners who had sent their objections before the deadline on Tuesday, will be called for hearings that will begin on Jan 6 and go on till March 31.

"Not all will be called as there are those who sent in duplicate objections through various mediums, so we need to filter them," he said. Some of the letters received were from property owners who were confused over the fee they will have to pay.

Tengku Adnan said at the hearing, the owners would have to prove that the annual assessment proposed by City Hall is high and if it is proved, the committee can decide to reduce it further.

"I hope my decision will appease the worried property owners. I will make sure City Hall will improve the quality of the services and also allocate more infrastructure for the well-being of the KL-ites," said Tengku Adnan.

He said a new notice will be sent out to all property owners to explain and inform them of the valuation and assessment rate.

On Monday, hundreds of property owners turned up at City Hall in Jalan Raja Laut to protest the controversial assessment rate hike.

The protesters were accompanied by Seputeh MP Teresa Kok, Batu MP Tian Chua, Bukit Bintang MP Fong Kui Lun, Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar and Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng.

They had called for the resignation of City Hall mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Talib.

Property owners in the city have been up in arms over the assessment rate hike after receiving notices from City Hall informing them of the new valuation for their properties last month.-December 19, 2013.