The tenant in your condominium has failed to pay two month’s worth of rent. He turns deaf ears to your warnings, and you subsequently change the locks and keys to his house as you feel he is no longer entitled to stay in your building. Because of your tenant’s refusal to cooperate, you are justified in doing this until he pays up.
In Malaysia, landlords do not have extensive protection when it comes to rental default. Taking matters into your own hands such as changing the locks might potentially make you liable for trespass and be sued by your tenant! Although initiating a lawsuit is lengthy and sometimes inefficient, it is better to follow the steps laid out by the law. For a start, making a police report and getting the police involved in any self help measures would be a plus point in court later.
How to Protect Yourself?
- Although an oral agreement is valid under law, it is better to have a well drafted Tenancy Agreement setting out your rights in writing.
- It is wise to constantly send notices and reminders to your tenant. Do not take matters into your own hand! If you have decided you have lost patience with your tenant, engage in a lawyer to assist you.
- If your tenant becomes aggressive and violent, it is best to call the police.
- Before refunding the deposit to your tenant who has vacated the premises, arrange for an inspection of the property to make sure nothing has been damaged beyond reasonable fair wear and tear.
- Know your tenant well including his/her family, next of kin as well as employer. This will enable you to follow through when things turned sour.
Positive Mindset: Your tenant is actually your business partner that ensure your good investment return in real estate.