PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court, in a landmark ruling, said housing tribunals could only decide on disputes between purchasers and developers as expressly stated in the sale and purchase agreements.
A three-member bench chaired by Zaleha Yusof also said purchasers were prevented from making any claims against the developer if they had taken vacant possession and renovated their homes.
The bench, which also comprised Zabariah Mohd Yusof and Rhodzariah Bujang, made these judicial pronouncements in allowing an appeal by Johor-based property developer, Country Garden Danga Bay Sdn Bhd (CGDB).
The appeal was made against a compensation award to the buyer of a RM1.6 million condominium apartment who said the company had delivered the premises without a sheltered balcony.
The judges heard oral arguments on the appeal today, with both parties having earlier submitted their written submissions to the bench.
Zaleha said written grounds of judgment would be made available later.
The bench also ordered the respondent, Ho Chee Kian, a Singaporean, to pay RM30,000 in costs to the company, which is the developer of the Danga Bay project.
Lawyers Cyrus Das and Leonard Yeoh represented CGDB while counsel Viola De Cruz appeared for Ho.
Das said the ruling would be guidance to tribunal chairmen on their scope and jurisdiction.
House buyers who have disputes with developers would refer their grievances to obtain compensation from housing developers at tribunals established in major towns.
Aggrieved parties could then go to the civil courts to quash decisions of a tribunal by way of judicial review.
Last year CGDB, obtained leave from the Federal Court to appeal against compensation awarded to Ho over his claims that they had allegedly delivered a condominium without a sheltered balcony.
Ho was handed the keys to the apartment in 2017.
The housing tribunal in Johor Bahru awarded Ho compensation of RM50,000 in 2018 although he had renovated his property.
CGDB applied for a judicial review, naming Ho and the tribunal as respondents. However, the High Court dismissed its application on Dec 27, 2018.
On Dec 11, 2019, a three-member Court of Appeal bench chaired by Kamardin Hashim also upheld the High Court ruling on the ground that the appeal had no merit.