I Didn't Pay My Rent, Can The Landlord Just Barge Into My Home?

If you didn't pay your rent, the landlord isn't allowed to come inside your home or change your locks. Instead, a landlord must issue a notice of possession and file a lawsuit, so that the police can take the necessary next steps. However, a landlord has the right to enter the property for inspections and repairs as well as for viewing purposes.
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Finding a tenant who’s on extremely good terms with their landlord is like finding a needle in a haystack.

But like it or not, there are times when your landlord will have to drop by for repair works or maintenance services.

Sometimes, they just want to check up on how well (or badly) you’re taking care of the place! Prior to visiting, the landlord must inform you at least 24 hours in advance. That sounds fair to us.

But here’s the thing - what if you haven’t been paying your rent for the last few months? In the first place, you’re already in the wrong for falling behind on your payments.

However, as we're currently facing highly uncertain times due to COVID-19 and the Movement Control Order (MCO), there have been people who face financial difficulties and are thus unable to make the monthly payments.

Now, should you be afraid that your landlord will one day break into your home and come after you? Should you install a new lock so that your landlord’s key won’t be able to access your home?

 

Okay, I haven’t been paying up. But does my landlord have the right to just barge in?

To answer the question - No, your landlord does not have the right to enter the rented property without consent, even if you’ve defaulted on your monthly payments!

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You might think the landlord should be able to, because after all, it’s their property right? But there are two laws in Malaysia which cover this. Namely, Section 2 (b) of the Contracts Act 1950 (Rev. 1974) as well as Section 7 (2) of the Specific Relief Act 1950. Keep reading to know how these two Acts protect you!

1) Section 2 (b) of the Contracts Act 1950 (Rev. 1974)

An agreement enforceable by law is a contract.

What this means is that your tenancy agreement isn’t just any ol’ agreement, but a legitimate binding contract which both parties must abide by. If your tenancy agreement expressly states that the landlord doesn’t have the right to enter the tenant’s house without consent, then you can even take legal action against your landlord if they enter your home unannounced!

But! This is only if the tenant did not violate any of the agreement’s terms either. So if you’re found or suspected to have violated the contract agreement, your landlord may then reserve the right to enter your home and take action against you under a court order.

2) Section 7 (2) of the Specific Relief Act 1950

Where a specific immovable property has been let under a tenancy, and that tenancy is determined or has come to an end, but the occupier continues to remain in occupation of the property or part thereof, the person entitled to the possession of the property shall not enforce his right to recover it against the occupier otherwise than by proceedings in the court.

This law on the other hand, basically states that landlords are not allowed to take any action against their tenant without a court order. Yep, even if the irresponsible tenant fails to pay their monthly rent!

So, thanks to the pro-tenant nature of Malaysia’s legal environment, your landlord isn’t allowed to just step into your home without a court order under any circumstance.

That is, unless they go to the extent of getting an eviction order against you. But trying to evict a tenant in Malaysia isn’t the easiest thing.

It’s a process that takes approximately 7 months and RM10,000! So this is usually the last resort for most people.  

 

That doesn’t mean your landlord can’t do anything about it!

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This doesn’t mean you can just rest at ease even with 10 months of outstanding rent! Due to the lengthy official procedures, the fact is that many Malaysian landlords tend to resort to certain *cough cough* self-help measures to get back what they were rightfully owed.

Among them include:

  • Changing all the locks
  • Cutting off the supply of utilities
  • Removal of tenant’s property from premises

All of these are illegal mind you, and if found, could result in the landlord at fault getting slapped with hefty fines. If you happen to be the poor landlord in this case whose tenant is not paying rent, here’s what you can do instead:

  1. Before commencing legal order, issue a notice of possession, which is essentially an application to the court, requesting them to take back possession of your property from the tenant.
  2. File a lawsuit under the Specific Relief Act 1950 as mentioned above or the Distress Act 1951.
  3. Once the court order is received, file a police report so that you can break the lock and recover the premises in the presence of a police officer.

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There are situations when your landlord can set foot in your home, though.

This then raises the question - “Under what circumstance is my landlord allowed to come into my home?” Well, here in Malaysia, the tenant is only obligated to allow the landlord entry into the property in these situations:

  1. For inspections and repairs

Say there’s a problem with the plumbing, or the washing machine that came with the unit somehow isn’t working. In cases like these, the landlord is responsible as they’ll most likely be registered under his/her name. Needless to say, they still have to inform you beforehand.

If you look closely through your tenancy agreement, you’ll probably find a paragraph on this, along with the minimum number of days prior which the tenant has to be informed. Some state three days, some say a week.

  1. For viewing purposes

In the four weeks before the termination of your tenancy, your landlord or anyone under his/her authority is allowed to view the premises. This could most likely come in the form of a property agent showing potential future tenants around. So don’t just lock the door and pretend like no one’s at home!

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So what can we do to protect our respective rights?

It’s a tricky situation for the landlord when tenants don’t make their payments. Don't even speak of the monetary losses, just trying to reclaim the property alone is already a daunting (and costly!) task.

Prevention is better than cure. And the secret to preventing all this unnecessary headache lies in your tenancy agreement.

Remember when we explained about Section 2 (b) of the Contracts Act 1950 (Rev. 1974)?

That a tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract? So before signing, make sure the agreement clearly states the rights of both the tenant and landlord. Our guide here explains more on that, but here are a few things to look out for:

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For the tenant

  • Be sure to keep a copy of the signed and stamped agreement.
  • Before signing the agreement, make sure you understand the contents of the agreement and if there’s any doubt on the terms, negotiate politely with your landlord.

For the landlord

  • State clearly in the agreement that you’ll give advance notice of a certain number of days to the tenant if you wish to periodically check the unit.
  • That you reserve the right to enter the unit if there is strong evidence that the tenant has breached the agreement.

On that note, here’s a few tips for Malaysian landlords! Before confirming the tenancy, make sure you screen the prospect thoroughly to avoid nightmare situations like this one.

This can be done by contacting any previous landlords, getting the prospect’s full financial information including the CTOS report, and registering the utilities under the tenant’s name.

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Why all this mess? Isn’t there a tenancy law or something?

Unfortunately, Malaysia does not currently have any specific laws that can protect both tenant and landlord.

At present, the only law closest to a Tenancy Act like the ones in Canada and the UK are the two acts mentioned earlier - the Specific Relief Act 1950 and the Contracts Act 1950. Hence why the tenancy agreement is so crucial.

But, good news! In two years time, we might be able to expect a Residential Tenancy Act put in place! Until that happens though, in a nutshell, you really only need to know two things:

  1. Your landlord is not allowed to take action against you without a court order.
  2. Your tenancy agreement is everything.

 

If you feel like you're ready to rent a property of your own, and will be the model tenant, then head on over to our extensive rental listings to find the most suitable place for you!

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