Flats, apartments, condominiums...the list is confusing enough. To make things even more complicated, we have serviced apartments in the mix too.
But what exactly are serviced apartments? Aren’t high-rise buildings all one and the same?
In Malaysia, we tend to differentiate these high-rise buildings by class. The truth is: Condos, flats, apartments and serviced apartments all vary in different ways.
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What’s So Special About Serviced Apartments?
Serviced apartments may also be called serviced residences or serviced suites, and often come with housekeeping facilities, room service and so forth - just like a hotel!
Condominiums are very much similar to serviced apartments, but are developed with residents in mind, instead of guests. This is why condos may have more lifestyle facilities, security, and parking bays.
The biggest difference that you must know? Condominiums hold a residential title, while serviced apartments carry a commercial title.
Read more on the 11 different types of properties and houses in Malaysia here!
5 Facts About Serviced Apartments You Probably Didn’t Know
1) Serviced apartments are not residential-titled
Serviced apartments may go by many names, but they’re all high-rise residential buildings built on commercial land.
The same goes for Small Office Flexible Offices (SoFos), Small Office Versatile Offices (SoVos) and Versatile Office Suites (VoS). As we’ll explain more below, the land title makes a huge difference - especially in terms of cost.
As serviced apartments are typically geared towards tourists, business travellers and long-term non-permanent stays, they’re often not the first choice for those looking for a place to call home.
2) Higher utility bills, higher tax rates, higher maintenance fees
As serviced apartments sit on commercial land, owners have to pay commercial rates too. So if you’re the lucky owner of one, expect to pay higher fees for almost everything.
- Utility fees: Electricity bills are typically 30% higher for commercial developments.
- Maintenance fees: Depending on the specific serviced apartment, the various hotel-like services such as housekeeping and bellboy services can make for higher maintenance fees.
- Quit rent: Generally 2.5 times higher than residential rates.
- Assessment fees: Serviced residences may be subject to an assessment fee of 5%, which is 1.5% more than stratified properties.
- Broadband internet and cable TV: Commercial developments are usually charged almost double compared to residential rates.
As mentioned above, serviced apartments are subject to low-voltage commercial tariff rates.
If we take the average monthly household kWh consumption of 599.19 kWh for a typical Malaysian household (according to this study), you would be paying an extra RM40 or more every month for your electricity bill alone!
Tariff A - Domestic (Residential) Tariff
Tariff B: Low-Voltage Commercial Tariff
These commercial rates apply to serviced apartments unless it can be justified to the relevant authorities of a unit’s residential usage. Once the owner is able to prove that it's used as a residence, he/she will then be able to enjoy residential rates instead.
3) More amenities within arm’s reach
Location-wise, serviced apartments are typically located in some of the most attractive spots.
Be it in the heart of tourist destinations or smack in the middle of business districts, amenities play a huge role for serviced apartments.
You’ll often spot serviced apartments as a part of integrated developments, often directly connected to public transport stations, shopping malls and grocery chains.
Compared to hotels or condominiums, proximity to amenities is key for serviced apartments as they have to cater to business travellers, tourists or expats still on the lookout for permanent housing.
4) HDA-protected property
By now, we should all be familiar with the Housing Development Act (HDA) right? This protects your property’s “warranty” or defect liability period (DLP). Not only that, but they also safeguard homebuyers from unscrupulous developers.
However, note that not all properties are protected by the HDA, notably those with commercial titles. The good news is: Serviced apartments are NOT one of them!
You read that right, this property type (along with Small Office Home Offices [SOHOs]) is now classified under the protection of the HDA. This is because these properties are partially- or wholly-used for permanent residential purposes.
This means that developers are required to obtain an Advertising Permit and Developer’s License (APDL), which grants them permission to advertise and sell the serviced apartments.
Luckily too, that buyers of serviced apartments will be protected when it comes to signing their Sale and Purchase Agreements (SPA). There'll be a standard SPA template used, and homebuyers entitled to its due protection.
5) Renting out? Serviced apartments may be the wiser choice
Great location, seamless connectivity and a plethora of amenities - with such attractive selling points, it’s no wonder why serviced apartments make popular investment properties.
Serviced apartments in particular, are positioned perfectly for Airbnb rentals and long-term rentals.
With serviced apartments, units are typically fully-furnished with basic hotel-like services such as housekeeping to boot.
Just add close proximity to public transport and other amenities into the mix, and it’s obvious how they make for the perfect investment property.
The Key To A Successful Rental Property? How Well You Furnish It!
You’ve gotten the most important part of choosing a suitable property out of the way. Now, you’ve got to choose whether you want to rent it out as an Airbnb, or target the long-term rental market.
The next stage is equally important - furnishing it! And no, you don’t have to fork out an arm and a leg just to get your rental property looking great.
You can easily furnish your property without forking out your life savings by visiting thrift stores, garage sales, flea markets or secondhand stores to scour for hidden treasures!
Click here to check out the Best Places For Second Hand Furniture In Malaysia.
When picking out furniture, consider the worth and value of the item by researching on what it would have cost originally. Material plays a huge role too, as some wood ages beautifully but may also pose a termite risk.
Our guide here explains more in detail on what you should consider when buying secondhand furniture.
Budget tips on furnishing your serviced apartment to the nines for cheap:
- Pick a theme and stick with it
- Temporary wallpaper doesn’t have to look tacky
- A quality lounge chair can make a room feel more plush
- Mirrors can go a long way after a thorough cleaning
- A statement vase can elevate a room and are easily found in thrift stores
On The Hunt For Just The Right Serviced Apartment?
Based on PropertyGuru data, these are the most popular (and affordable!) serviced apartments in Malaysia. If you’re considering investing in a serviced apartment for own stay or rental, this list is just what you need!
ARC @ Austin Hills is a luxury serviced apartment in Johor Bahru. With its close proximity to the Austin Heights Golf & Hotel Resort, prestigious facilities from squash courts to an Olympic-sized pool are the highlight of this residence. The property consists of three residential blocks with three types of units available (2- or 3-bedroom configuration).
Fronting the Bukit Jalil recreational park just behind Pavilion 2, Park Sky Residence boasts a prime location in one of the most sought-after locations in KL. Facilities that are offered by this property include a 50-metre Olympic-sized swimming pool, sky gym, spa, and aromatic pool, with access via the MRR2, KESAS, and MEX highways.
O’Hako is a serviced apartment by Japanese developer Marimo Land Sdn Bhd. This elegant development is not only situated in the mature township of Bandar Puchong Jaya with easy access to educational institutions and hospitals - but also features an out-of-the-box design. Residents even get to choose between a forest reserve view, river view, or pool view.
The highly coveted Skyluxe On The Park is situated on the last piece of development ever to be built on the 80-acre expanse of Bukit Jalil Recreational Park. The development sits right across from the 165-acre Bukit Jalil Golf and Country Resort and 500m from Pavilion Bukit Jalil City via a dedicated link bridge that will traverse right through the park.
This freehold serviced apartment is located in Taman Tan Yew Lai at Jalan Puchong. If rooftop facilities are your thing, The Nest Residences will no doubt impress with its 2 sky lounges, sky garden, and even a badminton court in the sky! This is a 2-block, 36-storey serviced apartment on a 1.7-acre freehold land
If you’re looking for a serviced apartment on Old Klang Road, look no further than OUG Parklane. Close to the main entertainment and business parts of the city, OUG Parklane offers a wide range of facilities, spacious units, and is perfect for families. Several major highways connect the development with the rest of the city like Jalan Klang Lama, North-South Highway, and MRR2.
Being the most modern and largest development in the area, KL Traders Square Residences sets the bar for developments in Jalan Gombak. Here, the landscape and facilities are exquisite, with a gorgeous BBQ terrace, swimming pool, tennis and badminton courts as well as playgrounds. Thе rеѕіdеnсеѕ соmрrіѕе оf fіvе tоwеrѕ оf serviced араrtmеntѕ with 30 storeys each.
R&F Princess Cove is located exactly in Johor Bahru’s Central Business District (CBD), facing Johor Straits on one side and CIQ Complex and City Square on the other. Comprising 15 towers in total, a Skypark with an area of 200,000 sq.ft is situated at the centre, in a recreational area. The development is also nearby JB Sentral Bus Terminal and KTM JB Sentral Railway Station.
Eco Sky by EcoWorld comprises commercial and residential blocks placed around a generous 2.7-acre park. Located on the bustling main trunk road of Jalan Ipoh, the integrated development makes for a full-fledged living experience in close proximity to all the major hubs of the city. It also emphasises on the finer elements of green living.
Arcoris Residences is one of Mont Kiara’s most popular serviced residences, with a bustling commercial area full of various amenities. The surroundings are home to equally beautiful developments as well as top class educational institutions such as Gardens International School Kuala Lumpur and Mont Kiara International School.
EkoCheras along Jalan Cheras comprises 3 serviced apartment towers (total of 1,515 units), an office tower, a hotel as well as a shopping mall. The development boasts Green Building status, fantastic accessibility by means of direct access to the Taman Mutiara MRT Station, and is surrounded by plenty of educational institutions - from primary all the way to tertiary.
Ara Damansara is rapidly emerging as the hotspot for serene, upscale high-rise living. Of note is Maisson Ara Damansara, an elegant family-themed serviced apartment. Here, quiet living amongst lush greenery can be realised, while still being in close proximity to shops and public transport such as the Ara Damansara LRT station.
Palazio is a serviced apartment in none other than Johor Bahru’s Taman Mount Austin. Life here is marked with great convenience as residents are spoiled with a wide range of facilities including the basics such as a gym, jacuzzi, badminton court, sauna, kid’s playground, multi-use hall, swimming pool and barbecue pits.
Almas Suites is a freehold services residence located in Nusajaya, Johor. Just an arm’s reach away is EduCity, a fully-integrated education hub with the likes of University of Southampton Malaysia Campus, Multimedia University, University of Reading Malaysia, Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia, Netherlands Maritime Institute of Technology, and Raffles American School.
Also located in Johor Bahru, D’Summit Residences is located near the Kempas exit of the North-South Highway. All units come readily furnished, while amenities nearby include CIQ Complex, Fairview International School, Kempas Medical Centre, Starhill Golf and Country Club, AEON and Tesco.
Whether you want a serviced apartment for your own stay, Airbnb or long-term rental, be wary of the pitfalls that present with commercial titled properties. But if you're ready, then you can take the next step to find out how to Repay Your Home Loan Faster, By Turning Your Property Into Income While You Live In It!