Be considerate to ensure trading from homes doesn’t disrupt harmony in neighbourhood

From noise, bad odour, cleanliness to parking woes – every neighbourhood has a horror story or two.

Some rent their homes and wash their hands off, telling neighbours to call the cops or report to the authorities if the situation worsens. As long as rent is paid, they just don’t care.

The partial lockdown, due to Covid-19, has forced more people to stay indoors and chances are they are being driven up the wall by “inconsiderate” neighbours.

With the economic downturn, more activities are seen within communities and in front of homes in recent times. Many have lost their jobs. Others are barely surviving, no thanks to massive pay cuts, and need to find new ways to make ends meet.

So they are forced to trade from their homes or in front of their homes.

If the strict interpretation of local laws, including in Kuala Lumpur, was to be applied, carrying out business in a residential area will get you into trouble. But in reality, we have seen professional firms and other businesses carry out their activities from heavily renovated homes – enjoying the cheaper residential rates for water, electricity and land taxes.

On Nov 10, nine women were fined RM1,000 each for practising yoga from a house in Desa Sri Hartamas.

Brickfields district police chief ACP Zairulnizam Mohd Zainuddin @ Hilmi, in a statement, said the women, aged 37 to 60, had violated the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) and that the house was a private property but had been used as a yoga training centre.

The news became a talking point not only in Desa Sri Hartamas but in other neighbourhoods too. Some sympathised with the wrong-doers while others felt they deserved the punishment. WhatsApp groups were abuzz with differing views.

Ironically, on the same day, Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa revealed Kuala Lumpur City Hall will allow city dwellers to open stalls or conduct small businesses in any suitable location in the city starting Nov 15.

“Kuala Lumpur will be a ‘free trading area’… those who would like to trade, full-time or part-time, can find a suitable spot for example in front of their homes or at the sidewalk of a residential area,” Annuar Musa was quoted as saying, adding those intending to do so need to apply for a temporary licence which is free of charge.

City Hall, had in a statement today, outlined the type of business activities that can be carried out. They include selling of food (eg. pisang goreng, keropok lekor, burgers), fruits, drinks (excluding alcohol), clothes, shoes and raw or wet products.

Activities that are not allowed include the sale of tobacco, explosive materials, vape or services like “kiddy rides”, massages and cutting of hair.

This is seen as a move to help people economically. But it will come with a price.

Whether it’s selling nasi lemak or yoga classes, activities in neighbourhoods can annoy other residents. For starters, parking is a massive woe even in upscale neighbourhoods where each household has an average of four vehicles. When trading is done from homes or outside of homes, it will naturally take up space.

When people start spending an hour or two at homes due to a service, it would mean an influx of vehicles entering and parking in the neighbourhood. The fear today is human traffic and if they are indeed free of Covid-19.

All these issues can be solved through common sense.

It is important to reach out to your neighbours from the start. Parking woes, especially after a long day at work, can hit a wrong nerve. As such, vehicles should be parked in the porch or at designated parking bays.

Good hygiene must always be practised. While some may be immune to the smell of food being cooked and delivered from homes, others may find it a nuisance.

Communication among family members need not be at the top of your lungs, especially at night, as some are forced to attend important video calls due to the time difference.

It’s important to be considerate.

There are those who still enjoy full salaries and their only frustration is working from home.

But there are also others who are left to ponder if they will be able to put food on the table tomorrow. Their only salvation is running a business from home.

Starting Nov 15, expect to see more business activities in your community, for those living in the federal capital.

To those trading in residential areas, be mindful of your actions. Start off on a good note and you may end up receiving support from those living around you.

To residents who love to complain over every single thing, now is not the time to be overly harsh or petty.

Otherwise, it’s best you live in the jungle – unless of course you find the melodic sounds of insects and birds annoying too.

Always remember: When in trouble, it is the man or woman next door who would be closest person to reach out for help.