Land ownership – Master Title, Strata Title and Individual Title


-Written by Carmen Tham-

A title is a legal document which records the ownership of a land/property. It will also contain other information such as mortgages, caveats, restriction-in-title, land use and etc.

Master Title

During the construction and development stage, developers usually hold that entire piece of land in the form of a Master Title. Under the master title, the developer is the land owner and holds all the rights to deal with or transact the land i.e. developing or selling it. As all properties built falls under the Master Title, the developer sells the properties to individuals by way of an assignment of rights to the specific property pending the issuance of the strata/individual title.

As the houses or apartment units which are built on the land are sold off individually and separately, typically the Master Title would be subdivided by the developer into multiple smaller titles known as strata title for high-rise buildings and individual title for landed properties.

Individual Title

All the landed properties like terrace houses, superlinks, bungalows, Semi-detacheds and etc will have separate land holders registered under individual titles. Alike the strata title, the individual title records the ownership, restriction-in-title, caveats and etc. The issuance of individual titles are generally speedier than strata titles.

However, do also note that there are some landed properties which shares common facilities (usually houses in gated and guarded community schemes) is considered as strata title. In order to ascertain whether the landed property will be issued an individual/strata title, the purchasers are advised to check with the developers or agents on this prior to purchasing the property.

Strata Title

Strata titles are issued to owners of high-rise buildings (e.g. condominiums, serviced apartments, offices, retail complexes and etc) which specifies the ownership details, area of the particular unit and accessory parcel (e.g. carpark bays assigned under the Sale and Purchase Agreement).

Previously, it takes up to several years for owners of high-rise properties to obtain their strata title as the developer would only apply for the separate strata titles after the building is completed. However, under the new Strata Title (Amendment) Act 2013 which came into force on the 1st of June 2015, the landowner/developer is required to apply for the separate strata titles within 3 months upon the completion of “super structure”. The strata title is to be registered prior to the handover of vacant possession to the purchasers by the developer. The “super structure” stage is whereby the walls between the different parts of the buildings are completed, which renders it necessary for the measurements of the particular unit, the common property and etc.

Once the strata title has been issued, the purchasers will need to execute the transfer form (Form 14A) of the strata title within 30 days (previously 12 months) from the date of notice of transfer of strata title being served to the purchasers by the proprietor/developer or from the date of purchase of the property (whichever is later).

Additional fees

This is the stage where the purchasers would need to fork out a large sum to pay for the ad valorem stamp duty on the property transfer which is calculated as follows:-

First RM100,000.00 – 1%
Next RM400,000.00 – 2%
Thereafter – 3%

E.g. The stamp duty of transfer for a RM600,000.00 property would be calculated as follows:-

First RM100,000.00 x 1%                = RM1,000.00
Next RM400,000.00 x 2%              = RM8,000.00
Balance RM100,000.00 x 3%         = RM3,000.00
Total stamp duty                           = RM12,000.00

Owners of strata properties will be subjected to the payment of maintenance and sinking fund charges imposed by the Joint Management Body or Management Corporation. The maintenance charges are calculated proportionate to the share units of the owner’s parcel, which is the main and accessory parcels.

Sinking funds payable by the owners of strata properties are usually 10% of the total amount of maintenance charges. This serves as reserve funds for future expenditures, which are less predictable and could cost more than the usual maintenance charges e.g. upgrading elevators, painting the building and etc.

Any defaulters of maintenance and sinking fund charges will be liable to face not only civil; but under the new amended law, may have to face criminal charges and if conviction will face imprisonment up to 3 years or fine up to RM5,000.00. Therefore, this is not something to be looked at lightly and it is strongly advisable to pay for your maintenance and sinking fund charges on time.

IMPORTANT NOTE: It is advisable to have a sub-divided strata title being transferred to your name as most banks will not finance a property if it is still on the Master Title 10 years after completion of the development. Apart from that, all transaction of the properties under Master Title must be approved by the developer and this will pose a problem/delay if the developer company is being wound-up.


“Carmen Tham is a lawyer and she is actively involved in real estate legal work. She is the managing partner of Messrs. KEAY & CO.a boutique firm located in Publika @ Solaris Dutamas with one of their major specialisations in property development, sales and purchase of property, tenancies and real estate disputes.

If you have questions that you would like to ask Carmen, please feel free to drop her an email at

Disclaimer: The information here does not constitute legal advice, please seek professional help for your specific needs.”

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