A residents association at FMI City held a press conference last week to object to the developer raising maintenance fees, removing cash from a maintenance fund and redeveloping public space into new housing.
U Thein Aung, a spokesperson for the FMI City House Owners Association, said the residents wanted to know, in part, how monthly maintenance fees are spent.
“We don’t want to complain about the amount of money the developer is collecting,” said U Thein Aung. “As a house owner who pays this monthly fee, I think I deserve to know why the fee has been raised and how the money is being spent.
“The fee was doubled on July 23 to K9200 for 4800-square-foot properties. It’s a reasonable fee but we object to the fee doubling without any consultation with house owners.
“We were just informed via letter that the fee would be increased,” he added.
He added that FMI is also trying to withdraw funds from a fund that was established to repair damaged houses and maintain the development.
U Khin Maung Win, the association’s secretary, said that many home owners who moved to the development in 2001 discovered flaws with the construction of their houses that included leaking or collapsed roofs.
The sinking fund was mandated by the Department of Human Settlement and Housing Development (DHSHD) to cover future repairs.
“The developer has to inform DHSHD when a project is finished. At that time, the housing association had to take over responsibility for maintaining the project and DHSHD had instructed house owners to form an association for this purpose.
“The sinking fund was formed to support the activities of the association, which means the developer should not be allowed to withdraw money from the account with the association’s permission – it’s a part of the contract,” he added.
“Many house owners have complained about the quality of construction work, so FMI chairman U Theim Wai discussed the issue with us and raised K30 million as a fund placed in a joint-account at Yoma Bank in September 2001.
“When he got 85 percent of maintenance fees from house owners, he added another K20 million later. With the interest accrued over that time the balance is K112.3 million, although the company is trying to withdraw that money,” U Khin Maung Win said.
He said the management office announced on September 7 that the funds would be withdrawn from the joint account because the monthly maintenance fees collected from house owners were insufficient to cover the whole development.
“They [FMI] doubled the maintenance fee in July and there are 1600 families living in the development who are paying the fee. In September, FMI said it’s not sufficient for the whole development but did not explain why.
“We sent an objection that day but have not received any reply as yet,” U Khin Maung Win said.
U Sein Hlaing, the association’s president, said another complaint residents have lodged is that the developer has redeveloped common-use recreational spaces as housing plots.
“The company told buyers that FMI City would include public parks, nurseries, a fire station and markets, just like a small city. And except for the fire station, the other amenities had existed. But starting from several months ago the developer pulled down the park and dug up the nursery to develop new houses.
“Many residents are upset to see these places destroyed, especially the park,” U Khin Maung Win said.
“We complained to the Yangon Region government and the Ministry of Construction, both of which instructed FMI to rebuild the park but that has not happened yet,” he added.
Daw Lai Lai Win, an FMI director, told The Myanmar Times on September 27 that the company could not approve the comments made by the housing board.
“I would say that their statements [the housing board] do not represent the thoughts of all house owners at FMI City, just the thoughts of a small group,” she said.
“As a company we are working with the authorities to solve these problems. After we can solve this issue, everybody will know the truth,” she added.