The decision to rent out your home or apartment can be an exciting one. It allows you to own more than one property, and hopefully enough money to cover the monthly payment – if you don’t own the rental property outright – as well as make a bit of additional income.But the reality of being a landlord is sometimes not quite as exciting as the idea of it. So before you decide to rent out a property, you’ll need to understand what your tenant could expect of you, what the renter’s rights are, what your rights and obligations are as a landlord and the steps you would need to take in the event that there’s a landlord and tenant dispute.
This is especially crucial in Malaysia, where there’s currently no official landlord-tenant law. Though the government is in the process of writing a law that details the rights of both landlords and tenants that should be enacted in 2020, until then, you’ll need to know what standards are currently affected and the processes in place for disputes.For example, even if your tenant does not pay rent on time, you cannot evict them without taking them to court. Surprised? Then read on for more information on landlord rights!
There’s more to being a landlord than simply finding a person who’s willing to pay you to live in your property. There are things your tenant will expect you to provide and things they’ll expect you to pay for – but are those expectations or obligations?Due to the current lack of an overarching tenancy agreement in Malaysia, the official obligations aren’t easy to pin down. However, there are standards that have come to be accepted, and these will be outlined in the tenancy agreement. This is a crucial document in the relationship between landlords and tenants, as it outlines both your obligations as a landlord and your tenant’s obligations as a renter.
Generally, the landlord is obligated to pay the annual property taxes; to insure the property and pay premiums; to provide appliances that are in good condition; and to provide basic necessities such as lights, cabinets, air conditioners and curtains. As for costs associated with the property, the landlord usually pays the property maintenance fees and for any repairs not caused by the tenant, while the tenant will pay for utilities such as electricity, water and cable/internet.Pro tip: Keep a detailed inventory of all the items you’ve provided to your tenant. Take photos of all the items before the tenant moves in so that you have them on file and you can refer to them in the event of requested repairs or damage.
Landlord Dos And Don’ts
In addition to obligations, there are some things that landlords should and should not do.
Do check your potential tenant’s background: Before signing a tenancy agreement, you should check your potential renter’s credit history, employment history, and references. At minimum, you’ll want to be sure your tenant is respectful of the property, pays rent on time and will be communicative in the event of issues. Checking their background and references will help to give you a clearer picture of the people likely to live in your house and should help you make a decision about who to rent to, if you have more than one interested party.
Do respect your tenant’s privacy: Though the property belongs to you, you are not the one living there. Even if you’re curious about your tenant or how they’re treating the property, you shouldn’t snoop around or drop by unannounced. No one likes unexpected guests, and popping around the place without letting your tenant know in advance will likely make them feel as if you don’t trust them.
Pro tip: You can include semi-annual property inspections in the tenancy agreement if you would like to examine the place from time to time.
Do encourage communication: Whether it’s directly or through a property manager, let your tenant know that they can reach out to you to discuss questions, concerns or issues. By doing this, your tenant won’t be afraid to approach you with any requests that may arise during their tenancy. For example, your tenant might request a ceiling fan be installed in order to lower electricity costs. By discussing this with you, you can then consider if it will benefit your property in the long-run, and then explain your decision on the matter with your tenant.
Don’t be slow to respond: When your tenant does reach out to you regarding an issue or a request, be sure to give them a timely response – especially during emergency situations and for things that could escalate if not taken care of quickly. For other enquiries that are not as time-sensitive – and requires you think over it – let the tenant know.
Don’t forget about your obligations: If in your tenancy agreement, you agreed to arrange such services as annual extermination appointments or dry cleaning the curtains periodically, don’t forget about them. Add reminders to your calendar about these obligations and follow through with them, as promised. But before confirming appointments, be sure to check with your tenant that they’ll be home or that they’re okay with you being there to let someone in, if need be.
Don’t be stingy with the security deposit: Though it’s tempting to keep a tenant’s security deposit in order to spruce the place up for the next tenant, don’t do it. You should only withhold a portion or all of a security deposit in the event that a tenant has damaged the property. General wear-and-tear, such as walls needing to be repainted, tile flooring needing to be polished or old appliances needing to be replaced are not grounds to keep the security deposit.
What To Do If There Is A Dispute
In the event that you and your tenant have a dispute – be it over non-payment of rent, who pays for a repair, or whether or not they can add a pet to the lease – you’ll need to know the proper, legal steps that need to be taken to resolve the issue.The first thing you should do when a dispute arises is to check the tenancy agreement! This should provide clear guidance on how to proceed. But if the issue is not covered in the agreement, then you may need to turn to a lawyer for assistance.In cases that take a legal turn, you’ll need proper documentation. Depending on the situation, this could be materials such as the tenancy agreement, copies or screenshots of communication between you and your tenant on the matter, or photographs of the property.
Once a lawyer is involved, they can help to guide you on the proper course of action, be it a demand letter (a letter sent to the tenant that lists the landlord’s demands), a court order (instructions issued by a court or a judge that requires a person to do something) or a distress action (a warrant issued by a judge). These are the measures that will need to be followed in the event that you do need to evict a tenant.
Pro tip: Include a clause on dispute resolution in your tenancy agreement so that both you and your tenant understand what will happen during the dispute process before issues arise.Ultimately, being a landlord in Malaysia can be a gainful experience – but it’s important that you understand your rights as a landlord and never overstep those bounds. So be sure to write a solid tenancy agreement and to treat your tenants fairly; they’ll likely treat you the same way, so long as they have a clear understanding of expectations upfront.