Property Guidance For Expats

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property guidance for expats

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Buying property in a foreign country can be a frustrating experience for the uninitiated. If you own a condominium or any strata-titled property in Malaysia – or are looking to do so – educating yourself on the benefits and challenges of this residential ownership structure is critical.

Though the title might not lead you to think this is a book you need to read as an expat in Malaysia, the lengthily titled (and sub-titled) Management Corporations in Malaysia: Owning Strata-titled Property under Malaysia’s Strata Management Act 2013 is indeed an extremely useful resource for anyone considering the purchase of strata-titled property here, as well as for those who are already such property owners.

Malaysia’s relatively liberal laws regarding real estate purchases by foreigners make property ownership for some expats an appealing alternative to paying high rent. However, whatever research you might do before buying property in your home country needs to be expanded upon considerably when purchasing in a foreign country.

For strata-titled properties, the minefield is doubly fraught with potential problems, most of which can be prevented by doing your homework and knowing your rights. The appeal of strata developments are many – community-style living, good facilities and amenities, and increased security chief among them – but these positive offerings are balanced by the responsibility of shared self-management, funds administration, and communal decision-making by property owners.

Typically, a management corporation is set up to handle all the legal responsibilities of the strata property, such as financial management, record-keeping, the management of the development’s common property, and more. It is very prudent as an existing or prospective owner to be well aware of the obligations and entitlements of these management corporations to ensure that your investment and financial well-being are being protected and properly managed, to say nothing of your lifestyle and enjoyment of the place you call home.

Author Michael J. Willis is an Australian-trained lawyer, former law teacher and research, as well as a legal consultant who owns and lives in a condominium in Kuala Lumpur, giving him first-hand knowledge of the various benefits and challenges of strata development living in Malaysia. He has also been an owner-occupant and remains an investor of strata-titled properties in Australia, upon whose strata laws Malaysia’s are generally based, dating back to the 1985 Strata Titles Act.

The significant lack of knowledge in Malaysia about the obligations and responsibilities of property owners, management corporations, and building managers with regard to strata-titled properties led Mr Willis to draw upon his professional legal background and personal experience to write a book that is filled with useful legal information, but written in an approachable and easy-to-understand fashion. Though the author makes it clear that the book is no substitute for professional legal advice, there can be no doubt that the information it contains can greatly benefit strata property owners.

The book is about 170 pages and includes an additional dozen or so pages of appendices highlighting the various documents the book references. Though the subject matter is admittedly a bit dry, Mr Willis generally avoids using a lot of legalese and conveys the necessary information in an accessible and easily referenced manner, breaking the book into logical topics and subtopics.


As properties grow ever more expensive in Malaysia, and minimum purchase prices for foreigners rise in tandem, it becomes all that more incumbent upon property owners to be well-educated in order to safeguard their significant investment. Management Corporations in Malaysia is a must-have book for anyone owning strata-titled property in Malaysia or contemplating its purchase.

Management Corporations in Malaysia is published by Sweet & Maxwell Asia and is available at most bookstores, or by visiting the publisher’s website at

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