A Look At APDL And Its Connected Terms

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APDL and related terms

Property developers, APDL and HDA. What is the connection between all three of these? Although the term ‘property developers’ is commonly used, you may not have heard of the last two – APDL and HDA. Well, this article will explain each of these terms and how they relate to one another. Specifically, the focus here is on APDL and the other two are explained in the context of the APDL itself. 

APDL stands for Advertising Permit and Developer’s License. You might be thinking, “Why would you need a license for advertising a property?” Isn’t it just like another ad where the owner has the right to advertise whenever and wherever he or she pleases? In this case, no. To put it simply, it regulates and ensures that all properties are represented fairly without leading to any misconception about the property. This way, all parties are on the same page.

The scoop on property developers

When we think of property developers, we often think in terms of construction –  the actual development of buildings and houses. However, it goes beyond that. Property developers are in the business of adapting land into houses, condominiums, hotels and shopping centres among other buildings. As a note, Johor is one example of a location in Malaysia having the highest activity of property development. Why? Among the reasons is the fact that it is located close to Singapore. Being in a strategic location has led to property developers increasingly selling properties here to locals as well as ex-pats.

If you are considering being a property developer in Malaysia, what you would mainly need is capital. Therefore, you may want to assess your financial situation before venturing into property development. According to an article in the Malaysian Digest dated November 17, 2021 “around 80% of Peninsular Malaysia’s business is driven by developers.” 


More on property developers

Property developers have a lot of responsibilities. After all, they are in charge of the development of buildings, renovation, purchase of land and sales. Here are some characteristics an ideal property developer should have. These also could be the features that you can look out for while choosing a developer to manage your property and get that dream home or office. 

Four characteristics that a trusted property developer should have:

A vision

They must be able to plan and visualise the best locations for their properties and turn them into valuable assets. Innovation and uniqueness are key elements to have here. For example, venturing into green buildings rather than conventional buildings; or being a pioneer in the property development industry by thinking of viable solutions that transcend normality.

Able to maintain mutually beneficial relationships

This calls for a win-win situation through relationships that are built on trust and communication. The property developer will have to deal with various parties including tenants, bankers, lawyers, architects and appraisers. All these relationships are important to preserve so that everyone gets their desired outcome. 

Conscious of surroundings and people

Ideally, developers should not begin a project without first considering the environment and the people involved. The goal should not solely be to make money but to provide sustainable, well-planned buildings that strive to meet the needs of the community.


As with the APDL, it is essential that property developers are honest and trustworthy – After all, in the quest for their dream home, you put your future in their hands, so take note of their dealings with you, what information they give to you and what they expect of you. Above all else, ensure that everything is legal.


Sustainable property development

“Sustainability” is a buzzword nowadays. Nearly every business domain has incorporated this concept into its planning and building processes. Ever wondered where this term originated? It dates back to the 1972 Conference on Human Environment in Stockholm. This resulted in a pilot report “World Commission on Environment and Development” in 1987. After that, in 1992, at the World Summit in Rio de Janeiro governments were asked to sign in an effort toward sustainable development, known as Agenda 21. 

As a property developer, one must ensure that his or her projects are sustainable. Through this, the quality of life, as well as the working and living environment of the people, are improved without harming the environment. It can be quite a challenge to balance natural resources and industrialization with the preservation and protection of the environment and resources for the future.  However, nowadays, it has become a prerequisite in all aspects of development. 

Green buildings

At this point, it is pertinent to bring up the concept of green buildings. Briefly, such initiatives bring benefits in terms of saving energy, ecosystem control, increasing real estate value and improving the health conditions of the residents. Essentially, green buildings reduce negative impacts on the climate and environment. 

How do you define green buildings? They include the efficient use of resources such as energy and water; the use of solar energy; measures to reduce pollution; good air quality; use of non-toxic materials; construction and design processes that take into consideration the environment and human well-being. Let’s look into the details and specifics of the benefits of green buildings, which can be broken down into three aspects as listed below. 

The benefits of green buildings


Our environment and surroundings can benefit a lot from green buildings. Through less use of energy, water and other natural resources, they play a part in generating energy themselves and increasing biodiversity. 


Green buildings have various economic benefits such as savings on utilities, reduced cost of construction, and higher property value for developers. Hence, in this way, green buildings benefit both the developer and the residents themselves. 

Health and wellness

Needless to say, green buildings benefit people by providing them with improved health conditions, increasing their quality of life and their well-being. This way, people can live more fulfilling and productive lives. 

APDL and its significance

Coming back to our key topic, the APDL, what is its significance? Basically, it is a mandatory requirement for developers given by the housing ministry in order for them to advertise and sell their property. As such it gives the government the ability to keep track of developers ensuring that they abide by the rules of the practice. The government can also track the prices of properties which helps them provide public housing that is affordable.  

On the flip side of the coin, the APDL ensures that there is no false information given to consumers in the real estate industry as a whole. The consumer will have all the details of the developer if something happens with the sale. Moreover, if the situation arises, the consumer can hold them accountable in court. 

What the APDL does and does not include

The APDL must contain information such as the type of property being sold or bought; its price as well as all development details like validity period, completion date and building plan number. Additionally, the density of the building may also be included. What the APDL shouldn’t include are details such as the amount of time taken to popular destinations and claims of beautiful scenery surrounding the property. Hence, with the APDL, selling and purchasing a property is made easier as all parties know exactly what the property entails. 

How to obtain an APDL?

The APDL acts as a sales permit. The APDL information is usually at the bottom part of the property advertisement in a newspaper. 

The Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Act (HDA – yes this is where it comes in!) 1966 states that an applicant should submit their application as determined by the “Controller” (meaning the local housing authority). The applicant should turn in a copy of the approved building plans; two copies of the ad including brochures containing relevant particulars; the selling price of all units and other information deemed necessary by the Controller. As for the price of the APDL, it is RM50 for an application and RM500 a year for the license.  

So with that, it is evident that if a developer offers you property without the APDL, then you should question them about it immediately. The Ministry of Housing and Local Government in Malaysia has access to information that can tell you which developer does not have an APDL or is blacklisted for the protection of the consumer. This way, the consumer is aware and will not make a decision that is driven by misleading information.

The procedure behind the procedure

As with most procedures, there is a procedure behind the procedure. The process before getting an APDL is also worth mentioning as it is not as easy as it sounds. Consider these steps: After developers get their land, they have to come up with a building design and seek approval from the local authorities to execute this design. They will then be issued with a development order after which they will be requested to submit the building plans. 

Once the building plan is approved they will need to get additional permission from other departments such as the Fire Safety Department and the Building Department among others. Each department will have its own legal procedures to follow. All these building spec requirements have to be fulfilled before they can proceed. It is only after all this that the developer has the right to apply for the APDL. So for the consumer, this means that the Sales and Purchase Agreement cannot be signed until the APDL is approved. 


Conclusion – what all this means

The APDL is important for both the people as well as the economy of the country. For people looking to buy a property, it is not written in stone that you cannot book a property without the APDL. 

Having a license to advertise and sell a property is important and is something that should not be taken for granted. A property developer should take all necessary measures to ensure that the facts provided are accurate and true – both to tenants and to the government. Right from the start the property developer should investigate and explore all the procedures needed to get the APDL and the rights that he or she will have in possessing the APDL.

From the consumer perspective, one should be vigilant and careful before making plans to purchase a property. Although the excitement of owning a home or office is expected, one should practise caution and be well-informed by doing as much research as possible. There is nothing like staying abreast of the property development scene, staying on top of your game and making that decision that will change your life.

This article serves to educate as well as to inform you of the APDL and related terms – which you may or may not have heard of.  Overall it is best to keep these pointers in mind while making the decision to purchase your next property.

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