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Renting Guide for Tenants

Determine your Requirements

Whether you look for property online or through an estate agent, having a precise idea of your requirements will greatly assist in finding your ideal place to stay. The main criteria are:

  • Budget
  • Location 
  • Type of Property 
  • Property Size 
  • Duration of Tenancy 
  • Furnished or Unfurnished

Budget

The monthly rental is commonly featured on advertisements as rental payments to the landlord are usually made monthly. In addition to the monthly rent you will need to ensure that you can afford the initial deposits (normally 3½ months’ rent). A small stamp duty fee on the tenancy agreement is also payable by the tenant if the rent exceeds RM2,400.

Location

Location

Location is critical to your decision so get to know the area properly before renting.

The following considerations will affect your choice of location:

  • proximity and access to work - proximity and access to schools
  • amenities including shopping, leisure, religious facilities, parks
  • safety
  • prestige

Type of Property

The main distinction is between landed and non-landed property. Landed properties include detached, semi-detached, and link houses. Non-landed include condominium units and flats. Rooms are also available to let in private homes.

Also will you only settle for a modern property or are you content with something more basic?

Property Size

Make a checklist of your requirements:

  • land area 
  • built up area 
  • number of bedrooms 
  • number of bathrooms 
  • reception rooms 
  • size of kitchen

Duration of Tenancy

The normal tenancy term is 12 months for locals and 2 years for expats. However it is up to you to negotiate with the landlord for a term which suits your requirements. Be aware that landlords will usually expect a higher monthly rent for shorter terms. The tenancy agreement may stipulate that the tenancy will continue if notice is not given at the end of the term.

Furnished or Unfurnished

Whether you rent a place furnished or unfurnished will depend on whether you already own or intend to buy furniture. Expats on a short-term assignment may prefer to rent a furnished place as this is the more convenient and usually cheaper option. Rented accommodation will feel more like home if you furnish it according to your own taste.

Arrange Viewings

Arrange Viewings

The main way of finding properties to view is to look through property advertisements either on the internet (on websites such as www.thinkproperty.com.my and www.iproperty.com.my) or the printed press (such as specialist property magazines).

Another way of finding properties to view is to drive through the area where you want to buy and look for any properties for rent as advertised by the estate agent’s board placed at the front of the property.

Identify suitable properties and call the numbers featured on the advertisements. Very few landlords advertise their properties directly – normally the person you contact will be an estate agent marketing the property on behalf of the landlord. Find out more details from the agent about the property advertised and arrange a time for viewing if the property fits your requirements. Tell the agent your requirements and find out whether the agent has any other properties on their books which may be suitable. Make sure you let the agent know your essential requirements so you don’t waste your time viewing unsuitable properties.

Estate agents get paid by commission from the landlord on renting the property. The buyer does not pay the estate agent. Use several agents to show you properties – if you rely on only one agent you will be unable to determine whether the properties on his book are fairly priced compared to other properties on the rental market.

During viewings, write down the property details and your impressions of the properties. Take photos if the owner allows you to. This will help you compare properties and remind you of the properties you have seen. It is all too easy getting confused between different properties if you do a lot of viewings.

Create a shortlist of suitable properties and arrange second viewings. Take your time during second viewings and scrutinise the property. Don’t hesitate to open windows, sliding doors, taps, etc to ascertain whether they are in good working order. A property in bad working order is an indication that the landlord is unwilling to carry out appropriate repairs. If the place is furnished find out which furniture comes with the property as some or all of the furniture may belong to the current tenant. Are the appliances (fans, oven, washing machine) good quality? Check the brand names.

Make An Offer

Make an Offer

You have now found the ideal place to live and would like to make an offer. What offer should you give? The price you offer will take into account the following considerations:

• the asking price: a landlord’s asking price is usually higher than the price they will actually settle for – talk to the agent to get a feel for what the landlord realistically wants

• rentals for similar properties: this will give you a feel for what the market rent should be, especially where condominiums are concerned

• the landlord’s circumstances: the landlord may be keen to rent his property to meet the financing costs

• the rent you are prepared to pay for the property: this will depend on your budget, how much you like the property and whether you are considering other properties

• interest in the property: if the property has been on the market for a long time without much interest the seller will be more negotiable than if several buyers are showing interest

• previous rejected offers: previous offers rejected by the landlord may give an indication of the rent the landlord is looking for – however the landlord’s circumstances may have changed and he might accept an offer he previously rejected

If you have been using an agent you should make your offer through the agent who showed you the property. When making an offer indicate clearly what you expect to be included in the property (eg, furniture, dishwasher) to avoid any misunderstandings. Also make sure you emphasize your positive points as a tenant so the landlord is more likely to be swayed by your offer (eg, employment credentials, rent paid by company). You may also offer for a third party to guarantee your rent (eg, parents).

The landlord will then either accept, reject or give a counter-offer, and negotiations will continue until a rent is agreed or they fall through.

The Rental Agreement

The Rental Agreement

Once the rent is agreed between you and the landlord, you will be expected to pay the first month’s rent to the landlord to confirm the deal. On signing the rental agreement you will pay 3½ months’ rent to cover for the security and utilities deposits.

The rental agreement will typically feature the landlord’s and tenant’s particulars, the address of the property, the agreed rent, the term and commencement date, as well as the tenant’s and landlord’s covenants.

The tenant normally covenants to, inter alia, pay the rent, not cause a nuisance, keep the property in good condition, allow the landlord to show the property to prospective buyers or tenants.

The landlord normally covenants to, inter alia, carry out any repairs notified by the tenant, take out fire insurance, allow the tenant to peaceably occupy the property.

If the tenant is an expatriate, the rental agreement may contain an expatriate clause specifying that the tenant may end the agreement if he is transferred to another location. Other clauses may be negotiated with the landlord, including the right to end the agreement if a development starts near the property. The agreement will also stipulate what is to happen at the end of the term, eg tenant to give notice to end or renew the tenancy.

The tenancy agreement also often includes the inventory for the property. Before signing the inventory, make sure that all the items included are actually present in the property and write down on the inventory any defects to the property or furniture to avoid any dispute at the end of the tenancy. You may also want to take pictures when you move in to avoid any dispute as to whether any defects were already present when you moved in.

Leaving the Property at the End of the Tenancy

Your tenancy is coming to an end and you do not wish to renew the tenancy. Make sure you check your rental agreement to determine whether you need to give notice to the landlord that you wish to terminate the tenancy. Give proper notice as specified in the agreement.

When leaving, go through the inventory to ensure you are leaving the property as you got it at the start of the tenancy; otherwise the landlord may be entitled to keep part or all of your deposit. Also ensure that you pay all outstanding bills you are responsible for as failing to do so may entitle the landlord to keep your utilities deposit.