No doubt the rental market in the past 18 months has been a tenant market. If you are on the hunt for a house to rent, be aware that nowadays most landlords are willing to sit and discuss the tenants’ Terms & Conditions, which was not happening in the past!
Of course is never good to abuse, but, at least, squeeze a bit of juice out of the landlords.
The following are some “strategic” rent-tips to help you picking up the right property , in the right place and, at the right conditions.
For the ones of you being a landlord, reading through might be helping in better understanding what your next tenant will be asking or be looking for.
With the current market situation, from both an economic-job security and property point of view, there is no doubt that many are looking at the “Buy-or-Rent” dilemma with mixed thoughts. Is buying or renting better?
This question will be discussed in one of the next articles, for now, here is a list of “life-saving” tips for the ones of you opting for a rental agreement more than a Sale & Purchase Agreement
Choosing The Where
The pandemic has brought many to become more inclined towards the “virtual” world and this carries a number of online tools that could be used before going for an actual survey. From online portals which will help in comparing rentals, fittings and features to google-earth where, using the satellite view the visitor will be able to have an actual, even though outdate, look at the surroundings (the street view tool is really priceless for this purpose).
Accessibility and nearby public transportation are two very important things to look for together with all the surrounding amenities which should match the personal taste of the going-to-rent-soon.
Survey the neighbouring areas for safety, amenities and look & feel
Do a survey around the neighbourhood up to 2 kilometres radius from your desired property. Ladies should always check how safe is the walk back home from the nearby transportation hub, if that will be the chosen way to commute to work. This shall be done at night to confirm proper lighting is in place.
Go and visit the nearby amenities and conveniences such as grocery stores, laundry, cafes, restaurants and supermarkets and spend a bit of time inside to make sure all the preferred food, delicacies and needs are available.
Asked Monthly rental: fair or too high?
Two ways of doing this. The first is simple, checking online property portals for similar units to the chosen one, compare rentals and, better do it by visiting at least two/three portals.
The second way might be taking a bit longer but will give even better ideas of the current rental rates. While doing the survey recommended above, take note of name, address and contact number of some properties offered for rental (the houses with banners placed by agents, to be clear). Back home, call the agents and verify the rental values requested by landlords in the neighbourhood.
Besides the agreed rental, any other cost?
How utilities will be settled, who is paying what and when. Some landlord prefer to directly handle the payments for electricity, water and other bills. In this case, they will notify the tenant about the amount to be transferred and execute the payment to the utility provider afterward. Other landlords, instead, are asking the tenant to settle the utilities.
What about management fees? Is the landlord a defaulter? Be aware that many management bodies will disable access cards and use of facilities for those owners not settling the management fees. This means that the tenant will not be able to use the access card nor the facilities. Always better to confirm with the management company that the landlord is not in their defaulters list to avoid unpleasant surprises.
What about the car-park? Nowadays many serviced apartments do not provide free carpark and, in case the tenant has his/her own car, this might be resulting in unexpected additional costs.
Unit viewing day: what to ask for!
A physical visit is a must before signing the letter of offer to rent with either an agent or directly with the landlord. Do not ever commit yourself without viewing the unit, too may “horror stories” have been going around with tenants being “chased out” by cockroaches or ending up sleeping on a bare floor as the “partly furnished unit tag” referred to one an aircon and fridge being provided!
If the visit happens during a cloudy day, it is always better checking the orientation of the windows with the compass normally available on most smartphones. We are not talking about Feng Shui or metaphysic here, no worries! Common sense says, too many and/or too big windows facing east or west might turn the unit into a hot microwave during the frequent sunny days. Units with windows facing north or south are always the best!
Best time to see the unit is always during evening hours, say after 6.30/7pm. This will give a realistic feel of what the neighbourhood is in terms of people, noise and traffic.
Two last tips for the visit-day are: check the signal strength from your “telco” provider and, eventually, confirm with the management which telco providers are serving the building. If you are on a WFH mode, better make sure there is good internet connection 24/7 by checking this with the neighbours.
Last but not least, if Grab is the chosen mean of transportation better have a look at the rates to the usual destinations to avoid unpleasant surprises later on!
What comes with the rented unit
Double check all the fitting of the rented unit and do a complete inspection of the furniture to ensure nothing is faulty. Make sure the fan, air-conditioning, water heater, stove, fridge, washing machine and other electrical appliances, which might be included in the “partly or fully furnished” unit, are in good working condition.
If the furniture are damaged, take pictures and ask the landlord or agent to acknowledge the damage before the taking over of the unit to avoid any dispute in future. Tenants have the full right to request an inventory list from the Landlord with a complete list of all, fixtures, furniture, appliances, and the quantity provided.
Who is in charge of What
Define who is responsible for repair works which might be needed from time to time. Ask the landlord, if the provided electrical appliances or water taps don’t work, will he/she come and fix it? What is under the landlord responsibility and what under tenant’s? If the place rented is an “aged” property, problems might occur more frequently and, fixtures and appliances could be pricey to fix. Best is always to include the common understanding of the above in the tenancy agreement too
Signing of a Tenancy Agreement
In Malaysia, by law, landlord and tenants relationship should only be regulated by a signed and registered tenancy agreement. Always make sure that all terms and conditions of thee rental are beneficial and fair to both tenant and landlord. Read through the tenancy agreement before signing it and, in case anything is not clear, always seek advice from lawyer. Once signed and registered, each party, landlord and tenant, shall receive a copy of the tenancy agreement.
It is very important to have an inventory list attached as appendix to the tenancy agreement with, if needed, pictures of damaged furniture or fittings to avoid unpleasant arguments when returning the unit upon expiration of the agreement.
Last but not least, have a look at new innovative tools, which have been coming up in the market since the beginning of the pandemic. Rentlab is a very innovative platform which allows to bid online for the rental of a desired property via a fair and transparent way. Here it is possible to check the current available properties for rent and get the full set of information on how it works.
Leave a comment below if you have found this article interesting, we’d love to hear your ideas on the rental market! !