Pepper Estate residents near agreement with developer

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If not for the initiative taken by the Pepper Estates residents committtee, the unity of the residents themselves, and the assistance of the elected reps for the area, the residents might not have achieved a satisfactory deal.

The residents grouped together and formed an association and hired an excellent, hardworking and honest lawyer. By the residents staying together and insisting on adequate compensation, they achieved it. Some important lessons to be learned here in dealing with developers.

A Pepper Estate resident reports on the compensation agreement:

It is almost three years since Beverley Heights Properties Sdn Bhd (BHP) bought the land known as Pepper Estate (about 30 acres in Tanjung Tokong) in May 2012.

After an initial hard-nosed approach by BHP in mid 2013, they eventually came round to the idea that residents were not giving up their homes unless they were adequately compensated.

With support from Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera Zairil Khir Johari and State Assembly member for Kebun Bungah Cheah Kah Peng, the Pepper Estate Residents’ Association (RA) and their lawyer Soo Keong Joo managed to get BHP to compensate the residents of Pepper Estate as follows:

  • A 800 sq ft apartment (containing three bedrooms, two bathrooms) sited within the legal boundary of Pepper Estate
  • Tiled hallway-kitchen-toilet areas and wall – tiles to 5 feet in the bathrooms
  • one covered car park lot
  • RM1000 moving cost contribution
  • RM600 per month contribution towards rental plus a rental deposit subsidy of RM1200 (refundable to the BHP) for those households who have to vacate for the construction of the building
  • Two months’ notice to be given to residents to vacate their homes when required

A majority of members of the RA appear happy with the compensation and the ex-gratia settlement agreement. It is expected that most members will sign by the end of the month.

BHP has yet to submit their site plans to the state government as their approval has been dependent on reaching an adequate settlement agreement with the residents.

BHP has verbally told the RA that the location of the residents’ high rise has yet to be determined and that around 50 houses may be required to move initially to allow for the building site and access. It is expected to take about three years to build.

What do you think of the compensation agreement? Whatever the case, it will be sad to see this lush valley of rustic working class homes separated by narrow lanes along gentle hill-slopes vanish from the face of Penang.

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gk ong

Anil,
Any comment on the affordable housing glut in Penang, as reported by The Star:
http://m.thestar.com.my/story.aspx?hl=Penang+affordable+housing+glut&sec=business&id={0AC9EE39-B09A-4BDA-9BB7-D30EA115E6EF}

Possibly cheaper affordable home soon?

Michael

Kevin, none of the residents have a land title, they are/were ‘lessees’ paying ground rent. However, all the houses contain families who need a roof over their heads and it was on that basis, appealing to International human rights law, they eventually got compensation units. The basis for the argument was that the houses were built by the original families, many of whom are now old, and supported by their younger descendants. Their ‘ownership’ is documented. The few tenant families, many who have lived there for decades will enter negotiations with the landowners, BHP, soon and will be supported the… Read more »

bctan1950

Supercally I wish it was as simple as that. My client bought the house when I was still overseas, with some other lawyers acting for him. To be sure, that he paid the land rent meant that he was pretty aware. What we do not know for sure is whether he was aware of the risks he was taking. To cut to the chase, what is clear is that the administration of the trust property left a lot to be desired. Ask around. People will tell you how the property was managed by a succession of trustees. But the unconscionable… Read more »

Michael

Everyone is aware, i think, that the houses in Pepper Estate were built on private property. That being said, your client would have a house there to enjoy for as long as he wanted it, or when someone else bought the land under all the houses, as what happened in May 2012 (Bought by BHP). If your client, or his family (his descendants) ‘owned’ the house when BHP bought the land then his family would have been involved in the progress that is now just being completed. The family may have negotiated an early settlement deal with BHP or decided… Read more »

Penangkia

Dont know how accurate this is, but my source told me JKR is withholding its approval for the project because the road leading to Pepper Estate, Jalan Mt Erskine, cannot cater for the additional traffic. However it can still be bull-dozed through if instruction is given.

bctan1950

If the reports of adequate compensation being given is true, then it is a most welcome development. People should not be shunted away just because the privileged ones want to make a few extra bucks to line their pockets. We should celebrate lives, particularly the lives of other people. We should never add to anyone’s hardships. Let me share this experience of my dead client. He bought into a house in Pepper Estate to live out his retirement. A few years down the track, the representatives of the land owners, lawyers, mind you, refused to accept payment of land rent.… Read more »

tua kee lang

Be compassionate. Also empathize the sufferings of the living ones. Material indulgence and greed do not being fulfillment and happiness. Be helpful to gain merits from the divine.
So be caring for those who need sheltering homes.

Michael

The residents grouped together and formed an Association and hired an excellent, hardworking and honest lawyer. By the residents staying together and insisting on an adequate compensation they achieved it.

iSupercally

bctan, When you buy a house you must thoroughly check out the status. Your client buy the house not the land. Like you said he has to pay land rent, that means he & you knows the status of the house that is on the land. You should not blame the lawyer but yourself. You should have instead advise the owner. Some years back, there was also a house in Pepper Estate for sale. It was cheap. The owner explained the status and I did not brought the house. Even if the owner did not explain, I would still know… Read more »

Yang

You ain`t seen nothing yet until the end

Michael

A somewhat vague answer

iSupercally

Michael ; Its not vague. What Yang is trying to say that in the end they may not get exactly what it should be.

Kevin

I can’t comment on whether the residents living there deserve compensation or not because I do not know the facts of the case nor the law in such detail. Assuming that they are the rightful owners and have land titles to show the same then the compensation seems inadequate. A minimum standard (even for affordable housing) should be maintained, in my judgment a unit at least 1000 sf in size and fully equipped with all fixtures/tiling to minimize renovation works post completion. Density should be kept to a maximum that is livable, where existing facilities/infrastructure can cope with the number… Read more »