Explaining the guidelines for a gated and guarded community within the law
One day, as I woke up in February this year, I drove out of the housing area in Damansara, at the exit and saw a few people building contraptions in the middle of the road. When I asked what they were doing, one of them told me they were installing a boom-gate. The boom-gate was part of the effort to turn the area from a run-of-the-mill housing area into a gated and guarded housing area.
I had just moved into the housing area at the end of 2012 and was wondering whether I had been told by my landlord about this. I couldn’t recall being informed by the landlord the housing area would be turned into a gated and guarded housing area.
The place is now is a gated and guarded housing area with three boom-gates parallel to each other; one for residents with access card; one for visitors and residents with car stickers without access cards; and one is for exiting.
The housing area I live in has five phases. The whole area where the five phases are in is gated with parameter fencing. Two phases have their own parameter fencing. You can say they are gated within a gated area. One has its own boom-gate, and that is the phase where I live. In order to get to my house, you have to go through the first boom gate at the main entrance allowing you access to all phases. You can enter four of the phases without any more checks.
However, in order to get to my house, you have to pass through another boom-gate and another check. The vehicles in my phase have to have two stickers in order to drive in without hindrance. Oh, let us not forget the one access card for the boom-gate at the main entrance. If you subscribe to both security systems, you have to pay RM50 per month for the sticker to enter my phase and RM100 per month for the sticker and access card (available with a deposit) to enter the main entrance. Talk about overkill.
As someone who is privy to a lot of housing development matter, I know they couldn’t compel me to subscribe to both systems. When meetings were called to inform us about the change within our housing area, I finally got the chance to ask about the matter and to voice my concern. In the meeting with the community leaders of my phase, I was told they had agreed among them two years ago to fence the phase and turn it into a gated and guarded community by itself. They bore the cost and issued residents with stickers.
I was told my landlord didn’t want to participate and they know they cannot compel her. They understood the law is not on their side as they were a phase within a bigger housing area. A gated and guarded community must be established as a resident association, registered with the Registrar of Societies. This is what the neighborhood as a whole did, EXCEPT my phase.
The other four phases established a Resident Association, engaged the local authority, in this case, Majlis Bandaraya Petaling Jaya and the police and turned the whole area into a gated and guarded community. I was told all this when I attended another meeting held by the resident association for the whole area. So, we get what are currently being implemented for the whole housing area.
Under the current law, there is nothing wrong with what is happening within my housing area. As long as no one complains to the local authority to take action. The police are always happy for proactive residents association as it will make their work easier.
In September 2010, the federal government issued a national guideline for gated and guarded housing developments. The ‘Guidelines for the Planning of Gated Community and Guarded Neighbourhood’ is done by the Federal Department of Town and Country Planning Peninsular Malaysia, under the Ministry of Housing and Local Government.
Lembaga Perumahan dan Hartanah Selangor has guidelines imposing additional conditions for gated and guarded housing development. The said national guideline recognised ‘Gated Community’ like strata properties and ‘Gated and Guarded Neighborhood’ sold under Schedule H and Schedule G of the Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Regulations 1989, respectively.
For Gated Community, the national guideline outlined 14 guidelines including, allowing only the maximum of 10 hectares to be gated with 200 to 500 houses, in town area, has high crime rate, a good road access with two entry points, location of guardhouse must be on the sidewalk to not block the road, parameter fencing cannot be more than 2.75 meter or 9 feet and the fencing must allow 50% visibility from outside.
For Guarded and Gated and Guarded Neighborhoods, the national guideline has six guidelines including the application for it to be done by Neighborhood Watch registered with the Registrar of Society, majority of the houses within the area has agreed to it, there must not be any public amenity located within the neighborhood, in town area, has a high crime rate, guardhouse need to be at appropriate place, register and inform the existence with Ministry of Home Affairs and the local government. Under the national guideline, the Gated Community is tailored for housing developer to build and sell property in a gated scheme and the Gated and Guarded Neighborhood is for neighborhoods already in existence and want their neighborhoods to be one of the gated neighborhood schemes.
Looking at the law, I have to say, my neighborhood didn’t contravene any of the guidelines and it is up to me to participate or not. Additional security is always welcomed in this age and time.
Khairul Anuar Shaharudin, lawyer, is the author of Ask the Lawyer series including 40 More Questions You Should Ask Your Lawyer Before Buying A Residential Property in Malaysia and books under Fixi, Pinjam and Pentas (writing as Anuar Shah). Follow Khairul on Twitter @kruel74 and his blog Legal Cat-asthrophe