6 Major Things To Consider When Renting A Home In Malaysia

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Amagad! It’s time to adult and rent your first place! Wait, don’t start looking for:

  • houses for rent,
  • rooms for rent,
  • studios for rent,
  • or even apartments for rent…

just yet. Let me ask you one question first…

Do you know what you’re getting yourself into?!

Before you jump the gun and sign your tenancy agreement, check out these 6 things you absolutely have to consider first before renting any home in Malaysia (or anywhere in the world for that matter).

If you don’t, you might end up with a shitty living situation, and who wants that, right?

Not to worry, I’m gonna share some stuff that I’ve learned from personal experience. I’ve been renting in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, for about 5 years now since 2014. I’ve moved twice due to an upgrade and the ending of my tenancy agreement. And in all that time, I’ve learned that…

These are the 6 things you HAVE to consider first before renting a home:

1. What’s the location, traffic, and public transportation like?

cars traffic jam angry
Traffic jam. Photo source: Visual Hunt

The place you rent will be where you rest, relax, host friends and family, and basically… live your couch potato life.

So your safety and comfort should come first when deciding where to live. 

These are some questions to ask yourself in terms of the location of the place you want to rent:

  • Who will be your neighbours? Families? Singles? Scary creepers? You gotta know these things!
  • Is the area prone to flooding, landslides, or any other natural disasters?
  • How’s the traffic like during the times you usually want to leave (e.g.: to and from work/school)?
  • Is there going to be future development next to the house or building? Because construction noise or view blockage won’t be fun. Trust me.
  • What sort of environment will you be living in? Is it a safe or dodgy area?
  • Is it a dense neighbourhood? Or does it have lots of space and greenery? Zis is important for your mental health y’know.
  • How near is it to public transportation?

TIP: Use Google Maps to estimate your travel time to and from work/school/any other of your usual travel locations.

You can set your departure and arrival time and date on Google Maps as well as Waze. I’ve found Google Maps to be slightly more accurate in this case.

And if you don’t drive and use public transportation to get around instead, see if the place is in comfortable walking distance to a bus stop and/or train station.

2. Is it a private or shared living space?

girl reading book in living room alone
This could you be! Original photo source: Tranmautiram

If you’re considering living with a roommate or housemates, be sure to try and talk with them first, so you can get a sense of what living with them will be like. Ask about their cleaning schedule, if they usually have guests over, and so on.

Most importantly, look at the condition of the place you’ll live in, and see if it’s clean and tidy.

Tips for living with housemates: 

  • Come up with a cleaning schedule – Seems anal, but this ensures that everyone does their fair share of house cleaning
  • Rotate washing machine use – So that you have enough space to dry each of your clothes and bedsheets
  • Have a designated space in the fridge and general living area for each person so everyone has a fair share and use of the space

Cool, now that shared living’s been covered, let’s move on to living alone (I personally prefer this option)!

Living alone can be both awesome and a bit scary.

On the one hand, you’re in charge of everything, and on the other, you’re in charge of EVERYFUCKINGTHING – cleanliness, bills, security, etc.. Gah!

Be safety-conscious and responsible if you ever make the decision to live alone, because nobody’s going to be there to help you (at least immediately) in the instance where something bad happens.

You should at least know where your nearest local police station is located and have their number on paper AND on your phone.

Tips for living alone:

  • Consider placing a CCTV/security camera in your hallway/above your front door
  • If you’re a woman, keep a pair of men’s shoes outside your home
  • Face your padlocks inside your door grill to indicate that you’re home (’cause apparently some robbers use padlocks hanging outside door grills as an indicator of the tenant being out)
  • Keep your curtains and windows closed at night
  • Know your neighbours

3. Is there a tenancy agreement, and what are the initial rental fees?

hand holding house keys
Ask before you sign any tenancy agreement. Original photo source: mastersenaiper

When you rent a new place, you’ll usually have to deal with a tenancy agreement and a higher initial rental fee. Yeah, this part sucks.

A tenancy agreement is this legal contract between the landlord and you (the tenant), which covers both your responsibilities for the rental duration.

Honestly speaking, the first two places I lived in didn’t come with a tenancy agreement, which I, as a first-time renter, thought was fineeee.

But in hindsight, this wasn’t the best choice for my landlords and I because we both would be unprotected if we ran into any disputes. Luckily, nothing bad happened and my new places came with tenancy agreements. Yay!

And as for the higher initial fee you pay when you first rent a new place, well, that’s pretty much unavoidable.

If you notice, most room/home rental ads in Malaysia will mention that you need to pay a 2 + 1 rental deposit in your first month of renting a new home.

Again, sucks, but that’s just the reality of things.

And sometimes that’s not all you have to pay a deposit for, there may be tenancy agreement processing fees, booking deposits, and so on.

So just be sure to ask for the cost of everything upfront first and see if it makes sense for you.

Here are some deposits you may have to pay in the first month of renting a place:

  • Booking deposit – Usually 1 month’s rent. It lets you reserve the place for the next 7 days so the homeowner doesn’t rent out the place to anyone else before your stay is made official. It can be used as the first month’s rent, security deposit, or housing agent’s commission fee.
  • Security deposit – Usually 2 month’s rent. Will be returned at the end of your stay if there aren’t any problems (damages, extensive cleaning required).
  • Utility deposit – Sometimes charged. Covers any outstanding utility bills at the end of your stay. Usually returned if there are no outstanding utility bills.

Ok, real-life example time!

I’ve previously rented a studio in Ara Damansara at RM1,200 a month. I had to pay RM4,250 in the first month for:

  • 1 month rent = RM1,200
  • 2 months rental deposit = RM2,400
  • 1/2 month utility deposit = RM600
  • Access card deposit = RM50

Got all my deposit money back when I moved though, so whoo! I’m a good tenant. Heh.

TIP: Have at least 3 months worth of rent (depending on where you’ll want to stay) ready before you look for a place to stay.

4. Do you have to pay extra for utilities, the Internet, and parking?

home rental cost calculation
Calculating extra home rental cost. Photo source: Pixabay

When you look at home rental, be sure to factor in how much you’ll pay on top of your monthly rent for utilities, the Internet, and/or parking. Ya, that’s adulting for you – bills, bills, bills.

These bills can really add up depending on the:

  • Different utility rate calculation according to the area you’re living in
  • Type of property:
    • Residential property – water and electricity bills are subsidised and are generally cheaper
    • Commercial property – water and electricity bills are usually about 2.5 times more expensive because commercial properties can be used for business purposes
  • Availability of Internet service providers and their Internet packages TIME Internet, for example, is only available for high-rise buildings at the moment
  • Whether or not the home comes with a free car park space

Some utility and extra bills you need to think of when choosing to rent a home:

  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Indah Water
  • Internet
  • Car park rent

These utility and extra bills can either be paid:

  • Inclusive of rent
  • Exclusive of rent (payable to the landlord when you pay rent)
  • On your own

5. What should you expect in terms of furnishing, interior design, and home maintenance?

living room interior design
Furnished living room. Photo source: Peter Heeling

Here are some things you should consider when checking out your potential room/apartment/studio/house to rent:

  • Condition of the home
    • Look for insects and mold (especially in cabinets and cupboards)
    • Test all water faucets, lights, fans, and air conditioners
    • Flush all toilets (mucho importante, especially if you always take a big dump haha)
    • Check water pressure (turn on faucets/showers)
    • Check the flooring, walls, doors, and windows for damages
  • Level of furnishing and condition of furniture
    • Fully furnished
    • Partially furnished (usually comes with air conditioner + ceiling fan + water heater)
    • Unfurnished

Sometimes, getting an empty home makes more sense than a fully furnished one. It all depends on the length of your tenancy and the cost of your rent.

You gotta do the math.

6. What amenities will you get when renting the place?

Friends at pool party
Pool party. Photo source: Jakob Owens

Depending on your lifestyle needs, here are some amenities you should look out for when choosing a place to rent:

  • Security
  • Elevator
  • Gym
  • Swimming pool
  • Laundromat
  • Food – restaurants, grocery or convenience store

Of course, you can’t always have everything, especially if you’re on a tight budget, so make a list of your priorities and go from there.

And there you have it.

6 major things to consider before renting a home.

Do you think of anything else when you choose a place to rent? Let me know in the comment section below! 🙂

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