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The Legal Issues between Landlords and Tenants

June 6th, 2009 · 3 Comments


On Friday I visited my friend Chris Tan, the managing partner of Chur Associates. He passed me a newspaper report about his speech on the topic of “Nightmares of a Landlord: The Legal Recourse” in The Edge Investment Forum on Real Estate 2009.

Chris gave some practical advice to the crowd and below are the points which I wish to share with you based the report:

Nightmares of landlords:-
1. Non-payment or arrears of rent

2. Runaway tenant

3. Overstaying tenent
4. Improper use by tenant / nuisance of a tenant
5. Bad maintenance by tenant

Preventive steps:-
1. Screen the potential tenant (Chris proposed to set up landlords’ association so that the members can share the information of the blackkisted tenants or use Internet to search for the relavent information of the tenants )
2. Determine the cost of renting (factoring in quit rent, assessment, maintenance cost if it is a strata development)
3. Proper tenancy agreement (Chris said there is no such thing as a standard tenancy agreement)
4. Ask for sufficient security (Chris said “you are free to do whatever you want”. No fixed rate of deposit is stipulated under the law, hence landlords should collect more deposit to reduce the risk)
5. Leave it to the experts (real estate management company)

Legal remedies:-
1. Forfeiture of the deposit
2. Under civil law, landlord can charge for double rent for oversatying
3. Under Specific Relief Act 1950, sections 7 and 8, property owner can take action for distress. This is where with a court order, an owner can enter his/her tenant’s permises, take possession of all of the tenant’s assets and dispose of them to pay the outstanding rent. This process will involve bailiffs and the police.
4. Apply to court for eviction order

I personally have received calls from friends who met the tenants from the hell.

2 questions usually being asked:

1. Can I sue the landlord and recover the outstanding rent?
2. Can I go into the house (without the tenant consent) and throw their belonging out and change the pad lock?

My standard answer to the 1st question is Yes, you can recover the outstanding rent if you can prove it. However, this will involve cost and time, it may not worth the effort in pursuing the matter in court if the outstanding sum is not much. Legal fees will easily cost you few thousands.

Despite this, I still advise them to engage a lawyer to issue a letter of demand (since it is only cost about RM100 – RM200) to the tenant, who knows this may work.

As for the answer to 2nd question, I will blog about it in my next post as the position of law is rather interesting.

Tags: -==Legal Tips==- · Property Law

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Can you force your tenant to leave by cutting the utilities in the premises? // Jun 9, 2009 at 12:22 am

    [...] RSS ← The Legal Issues between Landlords and Tenants [...]

  • 2 FAQs of Legal Fees and Stamp Duty Issues of Tenancy Agreement // Jul 5, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    [...] my 2 previous post entitled The Legal Issues between Landlords and Tenants and Can you force your tenant to leave by cutting the utilities in the premises? below are the [...]

  • 3 bitter tenant // Dec 3, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I would like to ask how to solve the dispute between verbal agreement and written agreement? My landlord twisted everything he said before and want to forfeit my deposit due to written agreement? Sometime it is nightmares of landlord but there are time tenants face miserable experience too..sign……

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