S'pore investors push up rents in Penang property
GEORGE TOWN, PENANG
THE pre-war property market in the heritage enclave of Penang in Malaysia could be overheating with foreign corporations snapping them up and causing rentals to skyrocket.
After evicting the tenants and sprucing up the shophouses, these are leased out at more than 500 per cent above the previous rent.
A row of 12 shops near the Komtar-end of Jalan Pintal Tali has been dubbed Little Singapore - they look like restored pre-war houses in the Republic.
The rental used to be not more than RM1,300 (S$433) before 2010. After the spruce-up, it is learnt the Singaporean owners are enjoying rentals of between RM7,000 and RM10,000.
A local real-estate agent said the Singaporeans' taste for pre-war shophouses was an open secret in property circles.
"We know their Penang director. When pre-war property owners want to sell, we call him. Their favourite type of deal is 10 shophouses in a row and they want to deal with a single seller," added the agent.
Cheah Kongsi, which owns about 100 pre-war shophouses, keeps the rent at between RM1,500 and RM2,700 each.
"But for the kongsi, we believe in keeping the city's Unesco World Heritage Site status sustainable," said chairman Peter Cheah.
George Town Heritage Action co-founder Mark Lay said his group was lobbying for state laws to prevent heritage property owners from raising rentals by a huge percentage.
ASIA NEWS NETWORK