As a new arrival, it's easiest to find an apartment, condo, or house through an agency. You can find a list of recommended agencies and search our extensive property database at www.PropertyinMalaysia.com.
When you find a place to rent, the normal procedure is to pay one month's rent as a security deposit. This payment guarantees the agreement between you and the landlord until all payments have been made and contracts signed. This security deposit will eventually become your first month's rent. At the same time, you and the landlord usually sign a letter of agreement.
Within seven days, you will be required to conclude the tenancy agreement and pay the remainder of the upfront payments. This generally includes two months' rent as a depost to be returned at the end of the rental period. Stamping (the process of having a layer vaildate the tenancy agreement) is usually organised by the agent or landlord but paid by the tenant and will vary in accordance to the rental rate. The agents fees should be paid by the landlord (agents are typically paid one month's rent).
In addition, you will probably be required to pay a deposit for the utilities of approximately RM1,000 (or, in some cases, half a month's rent). This will also be repaid when at the end of the rental period provided that all utlity bills have been paid in full.
Most tenancy agreements in Malaysia are for a period of two years and often include the option to renew for another one or two years, providing notification is given by a specified date. Make sure the agreement clarifies who pays for minor repairs incurred during tenancy. Most leases specify that the landlord pays for normal wear and tear but the tenant pays for any additional damage. Also be sure to clarify who is reponsible for maintaining air-conditioning and white goods – air conditioning units should be serviced at least once a year, and this may be written into the tenancy agreement.
At the end of the lease period, you may be required to restore the property to its former condition. This may involve repainting the walls and cleaning the carpets, the costs of which will be deducted from your deposit. It's a good idea to have the landlord check out the property two to three months before the end of the lease, to try and reach an agreement on what has to be done. It's always easier to negotiate the details when you are still in the country, and if you get all the work done before you move on you will have a better chance of getting your deposit back.
Most leases for expatriates have what is often called a 'diplomatic clause'. This allows expats to terminate the lease early without penalty if they are transferred out of the country or if their work permit is cancelled for any reason. If this is not included in your tenancy agreement, it is a good idea to insist on it being written in. Usually the diplomatic clause can only be excercised in the second year of the lease and requires proof of the change in circumstances as well as two months' written notice of the intention to terminate the lease.
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