Taking Office In JMB Exposes Oneself To Potential Legal Liabilities
The topic although appears intimidating but unfortunately is true. In my practice, I acted for and against Joint Management Bodies and many times, the matters turn litigatious because there was lack of knowledge of the statutory duties and applicable laws on the part of the JMC.
It is close to impossible to list down all the potential liabilities in this article but I will attempt to list down the most important items a JMB must be aware of.
To begin with, let me list down the statutory duties of the JMB which are the most basic duties each JMC should be aware of. It has no intention whatsoever to discourage you from offering your services to the Joint Management Body. On the contrary, this article serves to provide you insights into the responsibilities, possible legal liabilities of the JMB.
In addition to the statutory duties, one must also note that by virtue of the JMB owning the common area, the JMB will inevitably face with issues of abuse to the common area, façade preservation, unauthorized renovation, appointment of contractors and many more. These issues although appear to be simplistic but my experience suggests otherwise as I have come across issues where:
- Common areas were abused and used to generate revenue;
- Façade was converted into a big advertisement boards;
- Roof top was made available for installation of a base transceiver station;
- Renovation undertaken not in accordance to House Rules.
and litigation then followed. At this juncture, both parcel owners and the JMB will be dragged to court to resolve the issues which at time are not the most pleasant way to seek a closure to the chapter.
This is especially so when both parties are litigating in court, their relationship is still very much professionally connected when the parcel owners bear the obligation to pay the maintenance charges to the JMB whilst the JMB continues to manage the entire building.
There are many more areas of law the JMB must also take into cognizance especially when JMB enters into contracts with several stakeholders including the companies offering services of cleaning, security, lift maintenance, landscape etc. Each contract is drafted with different set of terms and negotiation for a best outcome will bring benefit to the community.
Conversely, if a lopsided agreement was signed on behalf of JMB , JMB may then be sued one fine day (if the breach of the contract caused the JMB to suffer losses) by parcel owners for not protecting their interest because each parcel owners have an interest to the Maintenance Account and the use of the funds. In fact this is not uncommon and I have personally did a matter when a JMB was ordered by the court to pay a sum of RM200,000.00 as fortification of damages to the opposing party for an injunction taken.