The government has been building public housing since the country’s independence in 1957. It regards the scheme as a way for the lower-income groups to own their own homes and live in better conditions. While the scheme has succeeded in providing shelter and increasing the overall home ownership rate, it is also an open secret that low-cost housing in Malaysia has been deteriorating over the years. This is due to issues such as poor maintenance owing to inadequate funding for the long-term upkeep of the development and repair works caused by a low collection rate.

“We strive to change that [perception] because we know how to do it. We have a team of experts who know property management inside and out. They have also been involved since the project’s inception. The thoughts and opinions shared [by the property management team] have prevented many long-term [property management] issues and afterthought in many of our projects, including Residensi Selangorku PR1MA LakeFront Homes,” says Aw Sei Cheh, chief operating officer of Avaland Bhd (formerly known as MCT Bhd).

Avaland is the developer of Residensi Selangorku PR1MA Lakefront Homes (RSPLH) in Cyberjaya, Selangor. Developed under the joint-venture affordable housing scheme between the Selangor state government and 

PR1MA Corp Malaysia, the project comprises 1,932 units spread across four buildings of 22 storeys each. With a standard built-up of 850 psf, the units were priced from RM280,000 to RM285,000.

The lake will be upgraded soon by Avaland (Photo by Avaland)

Unlike most of the government-initiated affordable housing projects, RSPLH comes with comprehensive facilities such as a swimming pool, jogging track, children’s playground, outdoor gymnasium, wading pool, multipurpose hall, half basketball court, futsal court, barbecue pit, multipurpose room, surau, badminton court, kindergarten and nursery. There is also a three-tier 24-hour security guard service with CCTV surveillance at this gated-and-guarded residence. The monthly maintenance fee is RM1.45 per share unit, excluding the sinking fund.

RSPLH not only received a commendable 74% Qlassic (Quality Assessment System for Building Construction Works) score, it also achieved a high collection rate of 97% despite the higher-than-average maintenance fees for similar projects, as it provides a full range of facilities. This reflects the residents’ satisfaction level and their strong commitment to the upkeep of RSPLH.

Adding to its achievements, RSPLH was named the Silver winner in the Below 10 Years — Sustainable Affordable Housing category in The Edge Malaysia Best Managed & Sustainable Property Awards 2023. It is also the only winner in this category for this year.

“We take pride in our brand name and reputation. Regardless of the market positioning and the selling price, we implement the same project quality plan from the commencement of construction work. We also set the same standard for QA/QC (quality assurance/quality control), simply because we believe everyone deserves to have a safe and comfortable home. It is one of our company missions and it is in our DNA,” says Aw.

RSPLH JMB chairman Muhammad Ikhwan Affandi and Lim (third and fourth from left) with (from left) The Edge Malaysia editor-in-chief Kathy Fong, The Edge Malaysia editor emeritus and the awards’ chief judge Au Foong Yee, Minister of Local Government Development Nga Kor Ming, The Edge Media Group publisher and group CEO Datuk Ho Kay Tat and City & Country editor E Jacqui Chan (Photo by Patrick Goh/The Edge)

From A to Z and beyond

Avaland’s property management arm, MCT Property Management Sdn Bhd, has been the appointed property management company for RSPLH since the project’s vacant possession in 2020.

“The property development business is no longer about build and leave. It is more like a service provider now to ensure that the product we built continues to serve our homebuyers well. It is one of many reasons we started our own property management business in 2014. There is no other way to know better what buyers really need than to create ongoing engagement and stay connected with them. Through the [property management] process, we can collect useful data, apply it to our next project and continue to evolve to be better,” Aw notes.

This explains why Avaland decided to fork out RM3 million to upgrade the lake near RSPLH. The upgrading works, which include landscaping and adding new facilities such as a jogging track, will commence in August and is slated for completion within three months. 

The project is fully funded by Avaland and the cost of maintaining it will not be passed on to the residents of RSPLH or its sister project next to it, LakeFront Homes.

(From left): Lim, Aw and Rafidah (Photo by Shahrin Yahya/The Edge)

“The lake is under the responsibility and management of the local authority, but we decided to do [the upgrading works] and many people wonder why because developers usually do this to attract buyers. However, RSPLH was 100% sold when it was launched and it is now more than 70%-occupied. The market response of RSPLH was so overwhelming that it actually spilled over to LakeFront Homes next door, which was sold at the market price,” Aw says.

The move, he explains, was made because Avaland sees itself as a service provider rather than just a developer. “We want to make sure that the environment is always pleasant even after the project is completed and handed over, as our buyers who trusted us are staying there.”

While he declines to disclose the estimated monthly maintenance cost for the lake, Aw says security and electricity make up the two biggest costs. The team will ensure the lake’s sustainability by using solar panel powered lighting, outdoor furniture that requires minimal maintenance, durable jogging track surface material and slow-growing trees in the park.

A show unit in RSPLH (Photo by Avaland)

Building a close-knit community

Avaland property general manager Lim Tek Guan, who is also a registered property manager, says that managing a government housing scheme project like RSPLH is challenging as the maintenance fee rate is not as high as other open-market residential projects.

“We need to be very precise in budgeting, making sure every penny is well spent. At the same time, we also need to keep educating our residents about community and strata living as most of our residents are first-time homebuyers from the lower-income segment and have not experienced living in a stratified building before. For us, the challenge is more on how to build the community than the hardscape maintenance in RSPLH,” Lim says.

The basketball court (Photo by Avaland)

The team set clear house rules from the start, especially timely payment of maintenance fees. This explains the project’s good collection rate since its handover.

“It is about how we engage residents with the human touch and create a positive community living culture. Through close engagement with our residents during the HOVP (handing over vacant possession) period, we discovered many didn’t understand the need to pay the maintenance fees and sinking fund. The strategy to achieve a high collection rate is to educate these owners on how important these funds are to upkeep the property,” Lim explains.

In addition, the management team maintains constant communication, disseminates information and provides notices and guidelines regularly to the owners. “We even do briefings on a one-on-one basis [on the house rules] and the strata residential concept. We explain these during their visit to our management office for any enquiries or during their applications to carry out renovations.”

The children’s playground (Photo by Avaland)

RSPLH’s building manager Rafidah Mohyiddin highlights that the human touch is crucial to build a close-knit community.

“Residents will be convinced if you walk the talk by showing them that the maintenance fees they pay every month really go towards the upkeep of the place. They want their home to be clean and well maintained, so they are proud of it.

“In fact, the residents really care and love their home [so much so] that they even took the initiative to do some mini upgrading projects. For example, we recently repainted our multipurpose hall. The JMB (joint management body) approved the budget and provided the paint and tools, while the work was carried out by our residents voluntarily. It took them three weeks to complete the project and it was done beautifully,” Rafidah shares.

She describes the relationship between the onsite management team and residents as close and transparent, and they constantly exchange opinions and suggestions on how to make RSPLH a better place to live.

“We place high importance on customer satisfaction with property management after HOVP. So, we conducted a Post-VP Customer Satisfaction Survey in the 10th month after HOVP, and we had a positive rating of 80% — encompassing those who rated it as satisfactory, good and excellent. In the next survey in the 20th month [after the HOVP], this positive rating moved up to 95%. This shows a healthy trend towards quality building management in the long term,” she notes.

Aw attributes the achievement to the dedicated team, saying: “This is very important because we are not just selling customers a building. Providing quality property management is how we live out our mission of creating communities and enhancing lives. With good-quality property management, building operations and maintenance can be carried out effectively.”

On winning the award, he describes it as a great recognition of the proper planning, diligent efforts and professional service rendered for the benefit of its residents.

“This award validates our commitment as a company that serves Malaysians from all walks of life through our luxury, middle-class and affordable properties. It highlights that our commitment to quality and service extends to all segments, including affordable ones like RSPLH,” Aw concludes.