How landlords can resolve tenant problems

If landlords were to get together, there would be a number of not-so-pleasant tales exchanged about their experiences with tenants. According to lawyer Chris Tan of Chur Associates, the common complaints from landlords include tenants defaulting on rent, running away and making improper use and not taking care of premises.

In terms of rent defaults, legal action can be taken to recover arrears, seek civil claims and obtain distress and eviction orders.

“Do-it-yourself tactics of recovery are not advisable as they may expose the landlord to further claims,” says Tan. One thing landlords could do is to lodge a police report, he adds.

Tan is the legal adviser for the International Real Estate Federation (Fiabci) Asia-Pacific Regional Secretariat and a member of the national committee of Fiabci Malaysian Chapter.

When asked if there is usually a spike in the number of rent defaults during a recession, Tan says residential properties may not be that much affected because shelter is a basic need compared to industrial/commercial properties which are market driven.

While delinquent tenants may pose problems, landlords need to be prepared and ensure that they do not neglect their role as responsible property owners.

“As a landlord, one must be organised when it comes to rent collection and maintenance. First of all, landlords should respect their tenants. Maintaining clear and open communications with tenants is also important to ensure issues can be addressed quickly,” Tan says.

The lawyer will offer more advice at The Edge Investment Forum on Real Estate 2009 on April 4, including what a landlord should do before accepting a tenant to avoid or minimise problems later on. For example, he could do a background check on the potential tenant and research the rent market in the area. It is also a good idea to draw up a proper tenancy agreement.


This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 747, March 23-29, 2009.

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