Being a landlord is unpredictably challenging, mainly when no current legislation governs tenancies in Malaysia.
Still, most people can only afford to rent as property prices continue to rise. This entails good business for you and more obligations such as listing costs, property upkeep, and so on. Worst of all: what happens when a dispute breaks out with your tenants?
Renting out space can be an exciting prospect that yields genuine income. Regardless, it’s crucial that you understand your rights, how to resolve conflicts, and the dos and don’t’s as a landlord.
What are the relevant laws related to tenancy?
Despite a potential Residential Tenancy Act, it’ll be years away before implementation. The National Land Code defines ‘tenancy’ as any rental agreement not exceeding three years without registration requirements. After three years, it will become a ‘lease.’
There are, however, a few laws with provisions to solve any tenancy-related dispute. In this case, Common Law or Case Law acts as the overarching framework which covers these issues.
- Contracts Act 1950 — covers tenancy agreement conflicts.
- Civil Law Act 1956 — covers disputes regarding rent payments.
- Distress Act 1951 — covers matters of eviction.
- Specific Relief Act 1950 — landlords are prohibited from evicting the tenant, changing the locks, etc., without a court order.
What are a landlord’s obligations?
Being a landlord goes beyond finding tenants to occupy your property. What will be expected of you? The tenancy agreement should outline the duties of both you as a landlord and your tenant as a renter. A landlord’s duties generally include:
- Paying the mandatory fees related to the property, including quit rent, assessment, maintenance fees, etc.
- Insure the property and pay premiums.
- The landlord cannot use their keys to enter a tenant’s unit without permission, nor do they have the right to demand entry without reason.
- Maintain the property’s major infrastructures such as piping, electrical wiring, etc.
Typically, landlords are responsible for paying maintenance fees and any repairs outside of the tenant’s fault. You must provide necessities like working lights, A/C, water, Wi-Fi, the works, as your tenant will be paying for these utilities.
Landlord Dos & Don’ts
Besides that, there are several unspoken rules when it comes to being a good landlord. Keeping these common-sense practices in mind will prove beneficial for all parties involved.
- Check your prospective tenant’s background
Check your potential renter’s credit history, employment history, and references. This research comes in handy when you have more than one interested party and are trying to narrow your decision down. Moreover, it’s always good to gauge the kind of person who’s going to live in your space.
- Respect your tenant’s privacy
Like you, your tenants value their privacy. You should never snoop around or drop by unannounced, or they might feel uncomfortable around you. Keep in mind to make your tenants feel safe and secure renting in your property.
- Encourage two-way communication
No matter the channel, let your tenant know that they can always reach out to you for any questions, concerns or issues. That way, your tenant may feel free to approach you and discuss specific requests openly.
- Give untimely responses
If you’re often slow to respond, it gives off the impression that you’re unavailable. Tenants should know that you’re always available—especially during emergencies and unfavourable situations that could escalate without immediate amends.
- Forget about your obligations
You want to follow through with promised services in the tenancy agreement, such as dry-cleaning the curtains periodically or annual property check-ups. Set a reminder to avoid forgetting these obligations.
- Keep the security deposit for petty reasons
Landlords should only withhold security deposits when a tenant has damaged the property. General wear-and-tear is not grounds to keep your tenant’s security deposit. If you wish to repaint the walls or replace old appliances, you need to fork out your own finances.
What to do when a dispute happens?
First things first, stay rational without acting out on emotion. Wherever the dispute arose from, the answers lie in the tenancy agreement! Since all parties have mutually agreed to its terms, you can check if the contract outlines the issue.
The tenancy agreement’s terms will provide guidance on how to proceed with conflict resolution. If the unique issue is not covered on paper, you may need to involve a lawyer for assistance.
Lastly, be sure to compose a well-written tenancy agreement and choose your tenants wisely! Being a landlord in Malaysia can be a lucrative experience—as long as you remember these dos and don’ts.
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