There are many different avenues for finding and renting a property for expats in Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur and Selangor to be specific) and we’ll be looking at some of them and highlighting some great advice.
The good news is that you can do most of your home search online. However, I’ve found that some homeowners don’t always list their apartments online.
The top property search websites are Mudah, iProperty, Speedhome, and Propwall. If you’re an ‘other expat‘ like me (especially black or Arab), it’s best to specify upfront when contacting the property agent/owner that you’re not local, and where you’re from.
If you’re in the country already and you already have an ideal neighborhood in mind, you can check out the condominiums and houses for “To Let” signs or the noticeboards in nearby convenience shops like 7-11.
In many cases that will mean higher prices if the owner decides to rent the apartment to you, or you’ll get an outright rejection for being a ‘foreigner’. If you get rejected, maybe don’t take it too personally. The country, unfortunately, has no laws against preferential treatment. Homeowners have the right to rent their properties to whomever they choose.
Longer is better
When you find a place you like, and the homeowner has no qualms renting it to you, try to negotiate the asking price. If you can, getting a 2-year contract helps reduce the monthly rental. The owner is sure of his income for 24 months. You get a lower price. Win-win.
If you have a job and have a contact/business card (especially for other expats), this improves your chance of being considered someone who can afford the rent. Even better if you work for a popular company, mention that first.
When viewing the house, check for damp walls and leaky faucets. I remember renting a place that had a bucket of water in the bathroom. After signing a contract, I realized the faucet leaked every time it was turned on. The previous occupant used the bucket to catch the water instead of fixing the faucet.
For things like that, inform the homeowner and they can fix it out of pocket before you start living there or they’ll ask you to fix it and you deduct the amount from the monthly rent. Speaking of finances, you’ll need a deposit and the most common (sometimes negotiable) is the 2+1+0.5 arrangement.
That’s ‘2′ months rent as a deposit, which you’ll get back in full at the end of your contract assuming you don’t break anything in the house. The ‘1’ is your rental for the first month. The half-month rent goes to outstanding utility payments.
Your rental will be paid in advance on a monthly basis, usually within the first seven days of the month. This will be indicated in your tenancy agreement. Take note of the items listed in the agreement as being in the apartment. Check and confirm that they are indeed in the house.
The contract is important
Read through the entire tenancy agreement before you sign it. You’ll have to pay the lawyer fees to draw up the agreement. The cost varies from RM10 to RM100. The agreement will also indicate the number of months in advance you’ll need to inform the homeowner if you intend to renew your contract.
Typically, this is within two months. If you choose not to, the homeowner or agent checks the house on or before the last day of your contract before they can refund your deposit. You get your full deposit if everything is intact. Otherwise, the cost of repairs will be deducted from your initial deposit and the balance returned to you.
That’s it. Did I miss something? How easy or difficult is renting a property for expats in Kuala Lumpur/Selangor? What’s your experience been like?