I would like to take an opportunity to make you aware of a situation currently taking place in Batam on the Indah Puri resort, where many Singaporeans and other foreigners own holiday apartments.
These apartments are now being repossessed illegally by a mafia-type company from Medan who has cut electricity and water and removing the roofs of apartment blocks whilst people are still in residence.
Photo: FB screengrab/ED ED
Below is a letter sent some time ago to the media detailing the history of events at the Indah Puri resort. Since this letter, events have escalated to the current tragic situation. The company in question are also paying the police and army to employ strong-arm tactics.
Photo: FB video screengrab/ED ED
The importance of this for Singaporeans is that once the borders open again, Singaporeans are the target market for thousands of newly built apartments in Batam currently sitting empty. If the situation at Indah Puri is allowed to proceed, then the same fate potentially awaits unsuspecting buyers of holiday apartments in Batam.
A search on Social media for Indah Puri has several viral videos. You can also find more videos and discussions on the Facebook group Expat Living in Batam
Thanks in anticipation of your attention.
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Photo: FB video screengrab/ED ED
In the early 1990s the Indah Puri resort in Batam was constructed and opened in 1993. Many people invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in apartments on a resort boasting a golf course, tennis courts, swimming pool and a gymnasium. They were also promised that a marina would be constructed. A majority of Singaporeans as well as many locals and ex-pats working in Batam chose to invest and take advantage of owning a resort property. Apartments were bought with a promise that the 25-year lease would be extended when it expired in 2018 without issue.
The marina never appeared, and the resort slowly fell into a poor state of repair. The gym equipment was never replaced when it failed, the pool area became increasingly dated with dirty poorly maintained seating and sunbeds, the changing area looked more like a poorly maintained public toilet.
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The apartment blocks were not spared from this deterioration, with handrails on the staircase falling off, wooden balconies slowly withered away from the infestation of termites (for which the resort billed residents for treatment), practically every roof leaked, and the general condition of the paintwork shoddy.
In June 2018 the extent of the termite infestation became clear when part of one of the roofs completely collapsed (video available). The resort despite having responsibility for the roof area made no attempt to make any repairs, leaving the residents below vulnerable to flooding. Signs were erected stating the whole apartment area was unsafe (image included).
An increasing number of owners lost faith in Indah Purti and stopped visiting for weekends and holidays, many refused to pay for the poor maintenance and as the occupancy decreased. The resort passed on the costs to the remaining residents, causing maintenance bills to soar to exorbitant levels compared to other similar locations in Batam.
2018 saw the end of the lease and the parent company PT Guthrie passed on control to PT Capital Graha Indonesia based in Medan.
From September 2018 all maintenance stopped in the apartment area. The swimming pool, gymnasium, and tennis courts were closed. The grass was not cut, the stairs and common access areas not cleaned, the weekly fogging anti-mosquito fogging programme was also stopped.
At the same time, residents stopped receiving bills for water and electricity & maintenance, which of course was not being carried out. The assumption was that all would resume once the transition to the new company and lease renewal was complete. However, it appears that there was a more sinister reason behind doing this.
In August the following year, residents were given just 3 days notice to attend a meeting regarding the lease renewal. At this meeting they were told that the new company intended to redevelop the resort and to facilitate this, all residents were to be evicted from their homes and placed in different apartments to facilitate the redevelopment. The cost, 12 million rupiahs per square meter, which for most apartments would be well in excess of $100,000!
Based on the normal lease renewal cost in Batam for that area (around $5 per square meter) residents were expecting to only pay around $4000, indeed this was what buyers were told when they questioned the lease renewal before purchasing.
Owners were also told at this meeting that billing for maintenance and utilities would recommence with immediate effect. Not only that, but the bill for maintenance for the previous year would be exactly the same. This, despite the pool, gym, and tennis courts closed, the grass not being cut, no cleaning service and no mosquito fogging.
Residents of course challenged this, stating they were being billed for the services they had not received. However, Indah Puri remained intransigent insisting that the full maintenance be paid.
Some residents paid only for the water and electricity, others made a goodwill partial contribution, but many refused to pay for services they had not received stating they were happy to pay for trash collection and security which had been provided for the previous year and would wait for a corrected bill.
Irrespective of whether partial or no payment was made, residents then received a letter threatening to isolate water and electricity even if those utilities had been paid. They were also informed that further steps would eventually result in residents being refused entry to the resort and their homes. A subsequent letter has now confirmed this, and residents now dont know if they leave the resort if they will be allowed back to their homes.
The assumption now is that the decision to stop maintenance and billing was a deliberate ploy to evict residents knowing that they would refuse to pay for services that had not been provided, thereby allowing the parent company to seize properties for themselves free of charge.
Many residents have already cleared their apartments of furniture, fixtures fittings. Even air condition units have been removed in an attempt to salvage what little they can. However, it must be remembered when all said and done they have lost their home.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of The Independent Singapore. /TISG
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