Repairing And Fixing Rented Properties: Who Pays The Bill?

Whenever it comes to the matter of which party has to settle the costs of anything, it'll always boil down to one simple question: Who is at fault? But it's not always that simple, so this guide is here to help you out!
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On the surface, it might seem like rental properties benefit only one party, namely the owner (landlord) of the property since the money goes directly to them.

However, consider it from a different angle and you’ll see that both owner and tenant(s) enjoy their own set of benefits, as different as they might be.

Although the owner gains from the monthly rentals (monetary), tenants benefit in a more intangible way – having a roof over your head and a place to sleep, gaining independence (moving out of your childhood home), and even living closer to work to minimise commute time.

Even though it’s a win-win situation for both parties, let’s not forget that everybody has their role to play in keeping the property in good condition!

As a tenant, your responsibility includes ensuring that everything is clean and well-maintained, without changing anything in the unit unless you've got your landlord’s permission (this includes drilling holes and repainting surfaces).

On the other hand, landlords have a duty to maintain the overall structure and exterior of the property, make sure the property’s covered with the necessary insurance, as well as resolve any issues related to utilities (gas, water, electricity).

 

Find out more about what a tenant/landlord is responsible for, and if you’re currently looking for a home to rent, make sure to research and find a good landlord to rent from!

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Maintenance Of The Property

When it comes to minor or major repairs of the property and who should foot the bill for it, first ask this very simple question: “WHO is responsible for the damage?”

Damages like leaky pipes, broken doors/locks, and pest infestation fall under problems with the structure of the property.

An even scarier thought: If your front door is not able to lock properly and has always been that way, your landlord should fix it immediately, as your security is at stake!

Hence, the landlord is responsible for the above, as they must ensure the property is safe for human habitation. The landlord is also the go-to person if there are any faulty appliances and unsafe wiring.

Tenants, though, are responsible for minor issues like fused light bulbs, stained carpets or floors, and things like cleaning up after pets to ensure a clean and stench-free environment.

Not to say that tenants can’t request for the landlord to fix the lightbulb, but it’s such a small problem that you wouldn’t want to trouble someone to that extent, would you?

Of course, there are certain damages to the property that should be taken care of by the landlord might be (wait for it)... Caused by the tenants themselves!

A mysterious hole in the wall or uprooted tiles; it can be hard to determine who bears full responsibility for these damages, so in an ideal situation, both parties would work it out and be honest with each other.

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(Bonus: Maintenance of Property UNDER LAW)

Before you sign on the dotted line and start looking for moving boxes and packing tape, make sure to inspect the property thoroughly.

If you neglected to do so and only realise there are defects after moving in, the landlord has a right to refuse your request to repair it.

You see, you’ve already signed the rental agreement indicating that you’ve examined the entire place and everything is a-okay.

The landlord may think that the hole in the door was caused by you, and not because the previous tenant was playing football indoors.

When it comes to damages that either the landlord or tenant does not agree on paying, this would be a good time to review your Tenancy Agreement (a.k.a. Tenancy Contract) and its clauses regarding repairs.

It’s also important to note here that you should be checking for a section about 'payment for repairs' and what is contained there, so as to protect yourself.

Before you sign, also make sure to read and understand the agreement in detail. You'll be paying to live in a unit that has to be EXACTLY as described in the legal document, so if anything falls short, it's the landlord who's responsible for making things satisfactory.

If certain terms or conditions are unclear or you’d like to negotiate, tenants can look to their agents or even the landlord for assistance.

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Can My Landlord Use My Security Deposit For Repairs?

A security deposit is also known as a financial collateral for the landlord. It's something that's a must to pay up, just in case they cause damages, or choose to disappear without paying rent.

So, the simple answer to this would be: it depends on your contract. That’s why having a rock-solid one is so important! 

If the contract states that the landlord may forfeit the security deposit if the property is returned half-destroyed, then yes, the landlord can use your security deposit to cover for the cost of repairs.

However, if the contract doesn’t say anything about it, then your landlord does not have the legal authority to use your security deposit for repairs.

If your landlord insists on doing so, you can take action against them as it can be considered a breach of contract.

 

My Landlord/Tenant Is Being Irrational. What Can I Do?

Human nature is fickle and unpredictable, so if you find yourself in a sticky situation with your landlord or tenant, this is where the Tenancy Agreement saves the day and resolves issues.

A Tenancy Agreement will contain details of the property, rental and deposits, responsibilities of both the tenant and landlord, what happens in the case of disputes, as well as general house rules and limitations.

And if you want, there’s even a sample template of the Tenancy Agreement available here, that you can download for free!

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Although the agreement is pretty clear-cut and available for you to use as defense if you’re facing trouble with your landlord/tenant, here’s the catch: It’s not a legally binding document unless it bears the official stamp from Inland Revenue Board Of Malaysia (LHDN).

In other words, if it doesn’t carry a stamp and you don’t know better, your landlord or tenant might use it as a counter-argument that the agreement is invalid and you’ll end up on the losing team.

It doesn’t take much to get your Tenancy Agreement stamped, but you will need to pay the Stamp Duty and make sure to get the original copies stamped too, for extra security.

 

Landlord & Tenant Do’s And Don’ts

Before you embark on your search for a rental property, or are considering renting out that empty unit you just bought, here are some quick do’s and don’ts for landlords and renters to bear in mind:

DO’S

DON’TS

Landlords

Tenants

Landlords

Tenants

Spruce up the property for viewings.

Visit the property personally and check it out.

Evict tenants without prior notice or as written in the contract.

Sublet the property or unit without permission from the landlord.

Prepare a Tenancy Agreement.

Make sure the Tenancy Agreement is reasonable and abideable. Verbal contracts are a no-no.

Barge into a home and change the locks although the renter has not paid the rent (in-depth reason here).

Renovate or make any changes to the property without permission.

Handle issues related to utility bills.

Payment of deposits, rent, and utilities on time.

Blame the renter for every damage and defect, even if it’s not their fault.

Ignore damages to the property.

Make sure the property is insured against fire, flooding, and perform annual gas safety checks.

Keep the property clean and safe.

Cut off utilities or remove renters’ property without permission.

Return the property and/or existing items to the landlord in bad shape.

Evaluate and attend to damages (including pest control) as reported by the renter and discuss payment (if needed).

Notify the landlord of any damages or necessary repairs.

Pay house visits without notifying the renter in advance (time period stated in the contract).

Annoy the neighbours and upset them.

Maintain appliances and furniture in the property (if there is).

Obey the house rules and regulations in the Tenancy Agreement and government laws.

 

 

 

For more helpful tips and guides on renting properties in Malaysia, check out our dedicated section on the A-Zs of rental properties and personalized guides for tenants and landlords!

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