Certification of Occupancy: Who Does It Help?

Gustidha Budiartie
Project Leader, JPI

When searching for “SLF” (Indonesia’s Certificate of Occupancy) on the Internet, the results are twofold:

  1. The definition of SLF and its related regulations, and
  2. The cases involving SLF. The fact that these cases are very critical of its ineffectiveness raises red flags.

SLF is a certificate issued to buildings that have met the building codes needed to function according to Jakarta’s bylaws. Only buildings with SLF can legally operate. However, it’s questionable whether every building owns SLF as its certification–or lack thereof–is only known when the situation calls for it.

For example, an apartment building caught on fire in August 2016, and dozens of tenants were injured and taken to the hospital. It was reported that the fire sprinklers were malfunctioning and the lifts were inoperable during the fire. Reports after the fact revealed that the apartment was not SLF certified and should have been sealed off months ago. So why was the building still operating?

SLF impacts the building inhabitants’ safety. Yet, occupants are the least informed when it comes to the dangers they may face at any given moment. It’s a sad reality to see consumers, who spend millions of rupiah for a place to call home or a safe workplace, are at risk simply because of certification issues.

“Irresponsible” developers?

Many buildings in Jakarta are reportedly operating without SLF. After the incident, the government blamed the ‘irresponsible’ developers in charge of these buildings, and insisted on uploading their names on the Jakarta Smart City Portal to be transparent. But this list has yet to be released.

What is the problem with SLF? Why are tenants unaware of the issues at hand? Is it true that only developers are at fault?

What people do not realize is that operating without SLF is disadvantageous for developers as well because they are unable to:

  1. Issue a Deed of Sale (AJB) for the consumers
  2. Place ATM machines in their buildings, considering SLF is required by the Financial Services Authority (OJK)
  3. Form tenants association and thus, charge maintenance fees

The reality is that developers prefer to be SLF certified. So then why do so many fail to obtain SLF if it’s imperative to their business operations?

When consumers asked if buildings are SLF certified, the most common response on the local government’s end is that “it’s being processed”. Developers cannot tell with certainty how long the process will take, given the lack of a timely and decisive administrative process.

Conflicting Regulations

Our research shows that there are at least 25 regulations related to attaining building permits (IMB) at all levels of government. Dozens of these regulations are known to conflict with one another. And if there are any issues with IMB regulations, it’s almost certain that SLF regulations are riddled with problems as well.

My concern is that it’s too easy to blame developers when people don’t understand the real issues. The government should perform an in-depth evaluation of the root of the problems with SLF to stop the vicious cycle–before any more buildings burn, before they must deal with another convoluted process to receive SLF certification, and before the government develops any hasty solutions without assessing the core issues first.

Clear regulations, cooperative developers, and an enforcement agency need to integrate more effectively. Once the issues with SLF are sorted, developers and the local governments can collaborate to provide safety and comfort to everyone.

If SLF is not beneficial for consumers and is detrimental to developers, then for whom was SLF created? While its many issues hinder business operations with devastating consequences to the people as well, it’s unclear what purpose SLF serves in the state that it’s in now.