You’re a first-time tenant and aren’t quite sure about your rights. So here is a free, all-in-one guide for you so that you know what to expect and do.
Welcome to the SPEEDHOME Tenant Guidebook!
Table of Contents
- Basic Tenant Terms
- The Benefits of Renting Over Buying
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Renting an Apartment
- What to Look for When Renting an Apartment
- Tenant Rights
- What You Can and Cannot Do As Tenants
- What if I have issues with Other Tenants?
- Types of Tenants You are Likely to Meet!
- Top 5 Most Popular Condos
- Top 5 Areas Best for Expats in and around Kuala Lumpur
- Kuala Lumpur’s Best Condos of 2019
Before entering the depths of renting, let’s first establish an understanding of the basics of tenants and tenancy.
What is a tenant?
What, exactly, is a tenant? A tenant is someone who occupies land or property owned by a landlord otherwise known as the owner of the property. In Malaysia, tenants range from international students to families looking for a place to stay. More often than not, tenants face discrimination when searching for a place to rent. Advertisements with select tenant preferences are fairly common.
A tenancy period is the duration of the tenant’s stay in the property owned by the landlord. A standard tenancy period usually consists of 12 months. There are of course cases in which tenancy ends or is terminated early. Such examples include personal emergencies or relocation of the family due to a parent changing jobs.
When a landlord and tenant complete a deal, a tenancy agreement is then made. A tenancy agreement is essentially a contract that protects both landlord and tenant and comprises of terms and conditions set by the landlord which the tenant must meet. No smoking and no drinking are among the common clauses set.
While landlords are responsible for maintenance of the property, they are not responsible for the damage caused by the tenant. It is up to the tenant to take care of the property during their tenancy period as per the terms and conditions in the agreement.
For instance, in SPEEDHOME’s digital tenancy agreement, tenants are responsible for keeping the property, fixtures and fittings if there are any and furniture in good repair and condition except for when there is damage from:
- Structural or inherent defects
- Wear and tear
- An act, omission or negligence of the landlord or its agents; or
- An event beyond the reasonable control of the tenant.
- Tenant: A tenant is someone who occupies land or property owned by a landlord
- Landlord: The owner of the property
- Tenancy period: the duration of the tenant’s stay in the property owned by the landlord
- Tenancy agreement: a contract comprising of terms and conditions set
Many say that buying a house is better. But let’s face it. It’s difficult to raise sufficient money to buy a house. The fact that half the Malaysians are still earning less than RM2,000 per month doesn’t help. The cost of living, which is slowly decreasing as the new government is gradually rolling out measures such as replacing the GST with SST will take some time for the effects to show. But the bottom line? It is clear that there needs to be an increase in wages to keep up with the economy and maintain an average lifestyle at most.
Until then, renting is cheaper than buying.
Choose where you stay
Choose a place to stay without having to worry about being tied down to the property. Check out what house type suits you.
Save more money with renting. Compared to having a home and having to pay all the bills, you pay less for more value. The value being, still having a place to stay for a cheaper price.
Overall, renting has several benefits besides helping you to save money and giving you the freedom of choice.
What do I pay when renting a house?
You want to rent a place, but aren’t sure what costs you have to face or will have.
This will of course be the biggest part of your expenses. But thankfully, it varies depending where you choose to stay in and depends on your landlord.
Moving all those furniture and baggage/luggage are a pain. If you can’t get anyone to help you, hiring movers would be your next best thing.
Household and utility bills
Sadly, you can’t escape this. Electricity and water are necessities, so it can’t be helped that they have to be paid for.
There’re of course other expenses, but these are the main ones that you should keep in mind.
There’s always pros and cons to consider when you want to make a decision. High-rise properties or not, all types of properties have their advantages and disadvantages. So what are the advantages and disadvantages of renting an apartment?
- Cheap, cheap, cheap. Compared to renting a house, it is much cheaper.
- Safe and secure. Apartments generally have their own security system or guardhouse.
- Great for short-term stays. For instance, good for people who are unsure of buying a house.
- A variety of amenities. Unlike houses, apartments have a host of facilities and amenities.
- Lack of privacy. Sometimes, you just want to have some peace and quiet or be alone.
- Parking difficulties. If you have multiple vehicles, it will be difficult as apartments generally assign parking spaces. Usually, about one.
- Can’t personalise the space due to management regulations.
Finding a place to rent isn’t easy when you are a first-time tenant or are someone who’s indecisive. “What do I look for?” you ask. What criteria should I look at before I rent? How much rent should I pay? Don’t worry. It’s perfectly understandable as the prospect of renting can be scary. To lessen your uncertainty, here’s a list of questions to consider.
- Who are you renting with?
- How is the property’s condition?
- What is allowed in the home?
- Am I allowed to have friends over?
- What facilities are there?
- What are the do’s and don’t’s?
- What’s the neighbourhood like?
- What’s the average rent of the neighbourhood/area?
These factors help you get a more detailed picture before you rent. So do keep these questions in mind when looking for a property. You should also check out What to Look For When Renting an Apartment.
Do I have rights as a tenant? Yes, you do. Your landlord can’t simply kick you out. He or she needs a court order first. Here are some local laws that govern tenancy here in Malaysia.
- Contracts Act 1950– tenancy agreement matters.
- Civil Law Act 1956 – rental payment matters.
- Distress Act 1951 – tenant eviction matters.
- Specific Relief Act 1950– prohibition during evictions matters.
- Common Law/Case Law– all tenancy matters.
Keep in mind that there are several types of tenancies, so make sure you know what type of tenancy agreement you are agreeing to. Read before you sign.
- Fixed term tenancy – a tenancy agreement that has a definite beginning and ending date which also include the choice of renewing the tenancy agreement.
- Periodic tenancy – a tenancy agreement that occurs within a determined period of time by the term of payment of rent which can range from weekly, monthly or even yearly.
- Tenancy at will – a tenancy agreement which is agreed upon between the tenant and the owner without the presence of a written agreement between both. It can be terminated also by both at any time, with reasonable notice, of course.
For a more in-depth explanation of your rights, click here.
Some form of conduct and house rules are to be expected as it is someone else’s property. To help you understand, we have prepared a list of what you can and cannot do as tenants.
Can I change the locks?
You can, but inform your landlord before you do so to minimise future problems. Your landlord may panic if they suddenly find that the locks have changed.
Can I stop paying rent if their landlords have not met their end of the bargain? Can I deduct rent?
No. You cannot. If you don’t pay the rent, or refuse to do so, you are breaking the agreement. You also give your landlord grounds to evict you.
If your landlord has not fixed faulty items or paid the utilities, make sure both you and your landlord are aware about the status of the payments. Discuss, talk about it and come to an agreement.
Can I end the tenancy early?
Yes, but your deposit may not be refunded. You will have to refer back to the tenancy agreement if there is a clause safeguarding or pertaining to the deposit if you decide to end it early. If the agreement does not state or mention that you can refund your deposit, it will be difficult for the you to ask your landlord to return it.
Can I sue another tenant?
You can though it is unnecessary if it is a minor dispute.
If it’s about missing property or physical situations, you can take action if you have concrete evidence Notify and discuss with your landlord before confronting the other tenant. This is so that if any damages happen during the dispute, it will be properly handled.
If the tenant is also your landlord i.e the master tenant, you will need to check your tenancy agreement with them.
If there is not enough proof, it will be difficult for you to go on with the case.
Can a tenant evict a subtenant?
No, unless the agreement to rent is between the tenant and subtenant.
If your landlord has provided you with a basic handout or guidelines, follow the instructions and act accordingly. Minor disputes? Talk with the other tenant and work something out.
If it is drastic, ask your landlord to teach you how to file a complaint so that if necessary, you would know how. This saves you a lot of time as you don’t have to contact your landlord and wait for them to answer.
When you’re renting a place, and you’re sharing it with people, there’re many types of tenant. These are some types of tenants you’re likely to meet.
The Stable Power Couple
A couple in which both parties are earning a stable income.
The High Flyer
A seasoned professional
Very common especially if near campuses or any academic institutions.
The First Jobber
Working to ends meet, but their income isn’t as stable as the power couple.
These tenants are between high-flyers and students.
If you’re looking for a condo or apartment to stay, it can be difficult as Kuala Lumpur has multitudes of options. Here is a list of Top 5 Most Popular Condos in Kuala Lumpur.
Consisting of a 26-stories tower, this sleek leasehold SOHO development that is the Block M of Empire City is located in Damansara Perdana. It has a myriad of amenities and facilities. Empire City is filled to the brim with studio units, loft offices, serviced office suites and more. With easy access to major highways like Penchala Link, North-Klang Valley Expressway (NKVE) and North-South Highway (PLUS), there is no doubt that Empire City is one of the hottest spots for tenants.
Nestled in the embrace of Mother Nature, Maisson is an elegant residential building situated on 8.9 acres of lush greenery in the exclusive area of Ara Damansara. Maisson blends indoor and outdoor living seamlessly with their concept of barefoot luxury, allowing residents to enjoy stunning natural beauty with a modern twist. Nearby amenities consist of IKEA, 1-Utama, Jaya Grocer, AEON Big, Giant and more.
In Ara Damansara, Pacific Place stands out from its competitors with limitless connectivity, having easy access to the new LRT station, health institutions (Subang Jaya Medical Centre and Sunway Medical Centre) and reputable schools and colleges. Surrounded by an affluent and established community, lifestyle malls such as Sunway Pyramid, Carrefour and Subang Parade and luxury hotels and golf resorts are but a stone’s throw away.
With 1149 residential units and 58 commercial units, Garden Plaza is an exclusive, one-of-a-kind freehold development built to cater to diverse lifestyles from international students to workplace professionals and businessmen. Klang Valley is within easy distance via LDP, ELITE and SKVE highways. So is KLCC via the MEX Highway.
Experience an unbelievable eco-friendly lifestyle with Sky Park in Bandar Saujana Putra. A sophisticated, urban styled service apartment block, Sky Park consists of five block buildings and is simply 1.0km from Lim Kok Wing University of Technology. Hotels, SOFO studios and near KTM and LRT stations, Sky Park’s accessibility is undoubtable.
When looking for a home or a place to stay, people usually have a set of criteria. But what exactly are those criteria? Kuala Lumpur has so many options such that it’s hard to decide. Here are the factors usually taken into consideration:
- High concentration of other expats – to make them feel at home.
- High end supermarkets – which contain international brands.
- International food – to connect back with their homeland.
- Reputable academic institutions or schools – for families, households with children.
Preferred living places
In 2017, it was found that Malaysia placed 19th out of the Top 20 preferred living places for expats. As Malaysia continues to attract expats and develop, trying to decide what neighbourhood to move to becomes increasingly difficult. Here’s a list of the top 5 areas best for expats in Kuala Lumpur for you to narrow down your choices.
Practically synonymous with expats, Mont Kiara is an affluent township consisting of gated housing areas, residential condominiums and office complexes. Mont Kiara International School and Garden International School are located in the area.
Affectionately known as “the suburb in the city”, Bangsar is a peaceful neighbourhood with a wide variety of excellent eateries and trendy bars. For transport, it is very well connected to the MRT and LRT with KL Sentral on the side.
Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI)
Commonly shortened to TTDI, this neighbourhood between Kuala Lumpur and Selangor has great bars and eateries. It is the place to consider for those wanting to experience a local side of Malaysia Accessibility-wise, it is well-connected to the Penchala Link, NKVE and LDP highways.
The name itself is a status. Like mingling and socialising with upper income group? This is the place for you. Getting around the place is also easy as it’s connected to the SPRINT highway and has 2 nearby MRT stations that are Bukit Damansara and Semantan.
Kuala Lumpur City Centre/KLCC
KLCC is the heart of Kuala Lumpur and a city within a city with easy accessibility with LRT around. It is home to some of the most popular landmarks in Malaysia while being an extremely generous host. Offering options like dining, arts, culture and recreation, shopping and entertainment, there’s a lot to satisfy the explorer in you.
This condo is located in the hot area Bangsar! In case you want to live nearby malls, bars and restaurants but still want to have a peaceful environment. This is your condo! Cascadium has 24/7 security and offers everything you need, plus even a swimming pool and BBQ-area. The rent you’ll have to pay sits between RM 2500-6500.
Suasana Sentral Loft
Don’t wanna travel too much to go to work? Then Suasana Sentral Loft is your place! The loft is a 4 minute’s walk away from KL Sentral and if you’re lucky your work is only a corner away. The loft also provides 24/7 security and a lot of extras. For instance, a beautiful swimming pool, BBQ-area and squash court. The rent you’ll have to pay is between RM 2000-7000.
The Oval is one of the most expensive and luxurious condos in Kuala Lumpur. If you have the money for this condo, you are lucky! The Oval is located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, KLCC. Your place will be in front of the Petronas Towers and KLCC Park. The average rent will be RM12,000.
Lavile KL is located in Taman Maluri which is strategically located at the edge of the hustling and bustling Kuala Lumpur’s city center. Its unique position makes Taman Maluri a high-density area as people will flock from all over to call it home. The rent you’ll have to pay will sit between RM 2000-6000.
Want to have luxury and privacy? Take a look at One KL, located in KLCC and nearby the Petronas Towers. This condo will cost money, a lot of money. But you’ll receive a private pool, large apartment, 24/7 security and be close to LRT.
Desa Kudalari Condominium
Desa Kudalari features an alluring architectural design and has nearly everything that a high-end property buyer would need in a lavish condominium. Although the property was constructed more than three decades ago, it still rocks because its management has done an incredible job in its maintenance. This condo is nearby KLCC, but the prices are not that high. Monthly rent will cost you between RM 2000-6000.
KL Gateway Residence
Looking for a children-friendly condo? Then this condo is a great option! KL Gateway Residence is located in Bangsar South and is walking distance from schools. The monthly rent will cost you between RM 1900-6000.
Aria is a sumptuous apartment that is located in KLCC. It is a high-rise development that was developed by Hap Seng Land Sdn Bhd. The property is still under construction and is scheduled to be completed in the year 2019. It’s an upmarket development lounging in the heart of the Golden Triangle. Moreover, it is a residential development that is built on a freehold land. This condo will cost you between RM 3000-8000.