While many aspire to buy a home or own one, some of us just simply prefer to rent due to budget constraints or lifestyle preference. Because we are renting from a landlord and the property does not belong to us, not only do we have to abide by the rules set by the landlord, we also need to be aware of the rights of a tenant.
There are no hard and fast rules for a specific tenancy agreement but a study is underway to introduce a much-anticipated Residential Tenancy Act in the next few years. The intention is to protect both the landlord and tenant should any dispute or disagreement take place.
Without a specific written law governing the acts of both the landlord and tenant, a tenancy agreement is often drafted out to ensure that both parties understand and abide by what has been agreed.
Both the landlord and tenant must go through the documents carefully and understand both parties’ responsibilities. When in doubt, always double check and confirm what the specific clauses mean and make sure you check the property thoroughly before signing the agreement too. If the clauses need further details and breakdowns, do not hesitate to make sure they are recorded down.
Among the aspects which should be specified in a rental agreement include but not limited to:
- Terms and conditions on return of deposit(s)
- Terms and conditions on subletting/additional tenants
- Utility bill and property tax obligations
- Special clauses (pets, smoking, access to amenities)
- Monthly rental fee
- Duration of rental agreement
- Penalties for late payments
- Terms and conditions around changes to rental cost
- Terms and conditions around duty of care
- How costs are attributed for repairs
If you are unclear of any of the clauses, seek for a professional’s opinion as they would be able to guide you on what you need to do should you not be able to come to an agreement with your landlord.
As a tenant, it is also important to ensure you maintain that property at a good standard, and care for it during your tenancy. Some of them include aspects such as
- Duty to keep the property clean and safe
- Commitment to not break relevant laws or statutes
- Payment of utility bills
- Permission for any new tenants/sublet in the property
- Payment of relevant deposits at start of tenancy
- Payment of rent on time as agreed
- Duty to notify landlord of any necessary repairs
- Legal implications
Do note that under current contract law in Malaysia, if you sign a two-year rental agreement, then choose to cancel after one year, you may be liable for the 12 months of outstanding rent. One must take note of this as this can be a huge financial implication to you.
[Image source: Sale photo created by yanalya]
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