Note: While we mention ‘condo’ in the article, the laws discussed here apply to all strata properties (apartments, flats, other high-rise properties and gated communities). These laws are also only applicable for Peninsular Malaysia and the Federal Territory of Labuan.

Picture this: You just moved into your new condo unit. The very next day, you see your neighbour carrying out massive renovations, causing a lot of noise and mess outside your house. You then find out that this neighbour actually hasn’t gotten permission to do all these renovations.

This scenario is actually more common than we might know. In this article, we’ll look at what you can do about a neighbour who’s illegally renovating their unit.

[READ MORE: Certain home renovations in Malaysia may not require permits. Here's why]

Management Approval Must be Obtained for Renovation Works

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In Malaysia, there are two types of properties: strata-titled and landed properties. Like we said earlier, strata properties are those that are gated and those that have managements. They usually have security guards, share facilities with one another, and so on. On the other hand, landed properties don’t have a management body and they don’t need to pay maintenance fees to anyone.

So if an owner of a landed property wanted to renovate his home, he would have to get the approval of his Majlis Perbandaran. Once the Majlis gives them that permission, they’re free to go on with their renovations.

It’s a different thing for strata properties. As we mentioned, these properties have management bodies. So if an approval for renovation in a strata property is needed, it would have to come from that management body.

Condo managements have their own set of laws (known as by-laws), and this is a power given to them by the Strata Management Act 2013. Section 9 says that the developer/management) can:

(2)(g) enforce by-laws
Under these by-laws, you would also find what type of renovations are and aren’t allowed in your condo. So if you find out that your neighbour is going against these by-laws, let the management know ASAP. The penalty of going against these by-laws, though, depending on
the management body itself.

Now let’s say you do complain to your management, but your neighbour still isn’t stopping the renovations...

What if Your Neighbour Still Won’t Budge?

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In the rare case that your neighbour is renovating their house without the management’s permission, but the management doesn’t want to stop them, there are a few other avenues that you can try to:

• Inform your Majlis Perbandaran – although they usually only handle renovation approvals for landed properties, in the case where your management isn’t helping, you can ask them to step in
•  File a police report, especially if the renovation is disturbing you because of noise, pollution etc.
• Sue for private nuisance – you might think that this is excessive, but in some very extreme cases, this could be the best resort—especially when you’re unable to peacefully live in your own home.

So it is pretty straightforward: Your neighbour needs the management’s authorisation to renovate their unit. If they do not, but still continue with their plans, you will need to make a complaint to the higher authorities.

But remember, if they do have permission, then you cannot stop them, even if you find it really annoying. Unless, of course, your own house is damaged and you lose peace of mind because of their renovations.

(25 February 2021)

(This article was first published on AskLegal)