When it comes to residential properties, one of the main criteria a purchaser would consider when it comes to purchasing a home – be it a landed property or a high-rise unit, is the security features the property would have to offer. The concept of a ‘Gated and Guarded Community’ has in recent years become a popular trend, especially so for the housing areas and residential community within Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley area. One will notice that in practically all the brochures promoting new housing schemes, ‘gated and guarded’ or ‘guarded community’ are the phrases you are bound to find being promoted as one of the selling features of the property.
So, what is a ‘Gated and Guarded Community’, anyway?
In Malaysia, a ‘Gated and Guarded Community’ generally refers to a residential community with secured, gated and guarded surroundings. It can be a building (condominiums and apartments) or a cluster of houses (a defining housing scheme, a ‘taman’ as it is known here) which is surrounded by a fence or wall on a perimeter, with access being limited and controlled with certain security measures such as guards, surveillance patrol, motion sensors on the parameter fencing and 24/7 surveillance CCTV. Guardhouses and gates are usually erected at the entrances and visitors are required to identify themselves before they are allowed to enter the area after acquiring confirmation from the respective house owner.
Though not all housing schemes in Malaysia are automatically gated communities, residents can choose to form one on their own. These residents would pool together resources to hire their own guards and build their own gates and protective barriers.
Gated and guarded communities are becoming a more common sight in the middle-upper class Klang Valley residential areas such as USJ, Bandar Sunway, Damansara as well as Kota Kemuning areas.
In the face of rising crime rates, a gated and guarded community promises security and a peace of mind in the knowledge that your family and property will be protected while you are out working or outstation, is reassuring; as well as coming back home to relax in your own privacy, without any fears of violation happening to you or your loved ones. A sense of familiarity and the feeling of safeness within a community is also part of the attractions in living within a guarded community.
Aside from the basic protection of property and lives, a gated community also enjoys quality public services such as garbage disposal and public area maintenance, since such services are specifically hired by the local residents’ association elected by the residents themselves, leaving local auuthorities to concentrate on provisions of other aspects.
Legalities of Gated and Guarded Communities.
This is perhaps one of the most important issues concerned when residents of an area wanted to set up their own gated security. Any attempts to close, barricade or restrict the access of a public road, drain or space; without prior approval from the relevant authorities is considered unlawful, and maybe prosecuted with the following laws accordingly: Sections 46(1) of Street Drainange and Building Act 1974, Section 80 of the Road Transport Act 1987 and Section(s) 62 and 136 of the National Land Code 1965. It is also a violation of Town and Country Planning Act 1976 to build a guardhouse in public land or road shoulders.
Some local and state governments, recognizing the need of certain areas for extra security measures, have set up guidelines for residents building their own gates and guardhouses. The following is an example from the Selangor Housing and Property Board:
- Applications made through the Resident Association (RA) only;
- Consent by 85% of the residents;
- Agreement must be made between RA and local authority;
- Guardhouse without a barrier are allowed and the location should not obstruct traffic (situated at road shoulder only);
- A written consent from Local Authority and Land Administrator (LA) for the construction of guardhouse on reserved/vacant land must first be obtained;
- Appointed security guards must be registered with Ministry of Home Affairs or with other relevant agencies.
Residents should also take note that it is important to consult the local authority and police before hiring any private security patrol for their housing scheme areas.
Is it really necessary?
For some, the concept of a gated and guarded community is nothing more than a gimmick or promotional means by developers to entice buyers, seeing that most usually appear along high-end projects meant for more financially capable buyers. After all, while it is a safety measure, it isn’t 100% foolproof.
Also, even if the plan had been part of the original housing scheme by the developer, higher charges will be needed for maintenance, sinking fund, security fees and cost of all facilities within the community, in addition to the usual quit rent and assessment rates levied by the local authorities.
While crimes can still happen in a gated community, we can’t deny that it do have its efficiency in cutting down crime rates, especially in an area prone to petty crimes (theft, etc). For housing schemes without such a feature, it will be up to them and their representative to survey whether the surrounding security warrants for additional security measures or not.