Jagdeep: Amend law to stop rental of low-cost flats to foreigners

Penang housing committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo says the public will understand the benefit of foreign workers’ dormitories once they are launched. (Bernama pic)

GEORGE TOWN: Penang wants Putrajaya to make an amendment to the Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Act 1966 to make rental of low-cost (LC) and low-medium cost (LMC) units to foreign workers illegal.

State housing committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said he had conveyed the proposal to Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin who was understood to have sought legal input on the matter.

The Datuk Keramat assemblyman said the present law had no provisions preventing such housing from being leased to foreigners.

“There is a regulation on the application forms for LC and LMC units which states that the house must be owner-occupied. But we find that owners (still) misuse and rent out their units to foreigners,” he said.

He said the prohibition should be set in the sales and purchase agreement for such units, adding that the amendment bill on this should be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat as soon as possible.

Jagdeep said the Penang government had approved the construction of four dormitory building projects in Seberang Perai.

They would have a total of 2,026 units and be able to house 21,280 workers. The projects are in Juru, Permatang Tinggi, Bukit Minyak and Mukim 12.

He said the Bukit Minyak dormitory complex, which would have 369 rooms to house 6,642 workers, was 20% completed.

He said workers now living in various housing schemes would be placed in the dormitories.

“It is a win-win situation. For the public, there will be no more social problems, while for the industry there will be adequate rooms for the workers,” he said.

Jagdeep said the state had engaged with employers on the matter since 2015 and approved dormitory guidelines.

“I personally believe that once the first dormitory is ready, all interested parties will understand the need for such accommodation and how it will benefit them,” he said.

Another workers’ dormitory had also been approved on the island, at Jalan Permatang Damar Laut. It will have 220 units for about 3,000 workers.

The Penang Development Corporation (PDC) has also identified two other plots of land on the mainland, in the North Science Park and Batu Kawan, with a combined land size of 10 acres, for workers’ dormitories.

A request for proposal is expected to be called soon for the project in the North Science Park.

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