Leaving home is a daunting situation for many young adults who are usually striking out on their own either to work or study. While some may relish in their new found freedom,the loss of familiar surroundings and the absence of family members can make others feel lonely and insecure. It is therefore very important to find the right living space to start your independent life. Here we offer some tips to help you choose the right place to fit your requirements, as well as avoid being cheated.
1. Use the Internet
There are many websites featuring properties for rent in various parts of Malaysia. These websites are easy to navigate and offers users a method to compare prices and roughly gauge the rental rates in different areas of Malaysia. Apart from that, the online property listing also allows you to virtually visit the property as there will definitely be pictures posted up online. This makes decisions really easy as you can know whether the house design fits your taste or whether the property is too shabby. Many websites have option to make your search easier by filtering out properties according to location and rental price. Additionally there are local available amenities listed as well as what transport is available near the property to help potential tenants make a decision. For example, you can find out if the housing area is near any LRT stations, bus stops or shopping malls.
Certain websites, like our own DurianProperty.com has options specifically for students looking for housing near their colleges or Universities. In this way, students from other cities do not need to travel repeatedly to the area to survey prices and suitability. Online portals can therefore help you save time and resources by being a first avenue to review potential homes.
2. Spread the Word
In order to maximize your house-hunting capabilities, try telling all your family and friends about what you’re searching for and where. If possible, ask them to tell others too. This may be a very old fashioned method but you never know if your aunty’s cousin’s nephew’s postman’s niece is looking for a tenant for her apartment or house and is willing to give you a great bargain price.
Another benefit of renting property from someone you know, or a contact of a contact is that there is less chance of fraud compared to if you deal with a stranger. This method allows you to meet more trustworthy people instead of just going into the business blind, and makes it easier if you want to negotiate rental rates and payment methods.
3. Visit the property
We cannot emphasize how important it is to see the property for yourself and verify whatever claims has been made in the online advertisement. Never commit to any tenancy unless you are allowed to view the place. Also, since there have been cases whereby potential tenants have been robbed while surveying houses, do be careful and carry some form of protection like Pepper Spray. Better yet, get some of your friends to go along and visit in a big group. You know what they say about safety in numbers!
When reviewing different property, don’t forget to take your own pictures and take notes about the condition of the house, including what needs to be installed (like safety grills, or fans, or curtain rails) so that you can mention it to the property owner or agent before you agree to a tenancy. Visiting your potential home also allows you to know who your neighbours are, which is very important. If you make a wrong choice you may end up suffering from noisy or inconsiderate neighbours who throw trash in front of your door or keep you awake in the wee hours of the morning.
4. Do Background Checks
If you are dealing with a middleman or agent, it is important upon meeting him (usually to view to property) to get his business card or personal details. If they are from an agency, your job is easier since all you have to do is call the agency up and verify that he or she is an employee. Online checks about the property agency should be done as well, and valid agencies should at least have a website or Facebook page, with their business license number state somewhere.
If you are dealing with an independent agent or the house owner themselves, verification is slightly more difficult. In the case of the independent agent, an online search of his name and phone number should yield some results. Valid independent property agents are usually registered and have an ID number. If not, it is advisable not to deal with them. If you are dealing with the owner straight on, it helps if there are neighbours around so you can ask about the validity of the house ownership and other info like how long has the house been empty, who the previous tenants were etc.
In the event that you are renting a room from another tenant, or from the host family, please do prepare a general agreement covering payment methods, sharing systems in the house, deadlines and others to be signed by both parties. This is to avoid any legal sticky situation in the future.
5. Settle everything ASAP
Usually if you agree to rent a property, you will first be asked to pay one month’s rental as deposit together with one month rental as utility insurance. These can be claimed after the tenancy is over. Additionally you will have to pay one or two month’s rental upfront. In total you’d have to pay 3 or 4 months in rental. Some agents require you to pay a ‘booking fee’ on the property to show your commitment. This is a widespread practice but very risky and not advisable since payment is made without any black and white record or agreement.
However, if the agent or house owner insists, as usual try to write out a small note, signed by both parties, recording the transaction and what the money is for. Obtain a receipt if possible too. Hand written notes are admissible in court as long as both party’s signatures are on it.
Later on, you will be asked to sign the tenancy agreement, so please read all the fine print carefully before signing as this is considered a legal document. It is advisable that the deposit, utilities and upfront rental fees be paid on the same day you obtain the keys and sign the agreement. Work out with the agent or owner how this can be done to minimize instances of fraud on both parties. For example, both tenant and agent/owner can go to the bank to transfer cash before keys are handed over. Avoid waiting between these steps as it may lead to misunderstandings and allegations of cheating.
We hope these steps can be useful for both first time tenants as well as those experienced in renting properties.