Went to watch a jazz band in Hakka Republic (my favourite fine dining haunt in KL!) –
It was a night out with my close expat buddies here in KL namely Stephanie, Joshua and Terry. We had a couple of drinks, and I had my favourite spaghetti carbonara – just second place behind Deliciously Chocolate’s lemon macarons!
During our little get-together Stephanie has asked me about the feasibility of short-term room lets like AirBnB – and whether that option is feasible for expats like her. You see, she rents this huge place in Seni Mont Kiara (2,500 sq ft) and since she is alone with her golden retriever, she felt if she could use the spare space at home to make some extra cash on the side. The following is that I told her.
Indeed, a lot of today’s homeowners have found it convenient to rent out spare rooms in their home. After all, what’s not to love about extra income every month that saves you a lot on the mortgage? However, the balance of the world says it will come with its own problems and equally weighted responsibilities.
I told Steph, “A quick heads up on what you should expect when you put out your home for rent…”
Get Ready For Monster-Sized Headaches!
I guess that in Malaysia (not much so in the UK) the most common, and perhaps the most predominant, problem awaiting a prospective landlord when it comes to renting out his house is centered on the tenant. Since homes are not set up to be shared between different people, privacy and sharing of common household items are just among the most common things that landlords worry about. You share practically the same facilities like the living room, the kitchen, and the bathrooms and toilets (unless you invest on a separate facility for yourself).
Our spacious family home in Cambridgeshire, UK. We rented out rooms as bed and breakfast to make ends meet, once upon a time…
Another common problem involves the responsibilities on maintenance and security. Everyone who has gone on to experience being a tenant at some point in their lives know that these are very critical areas in rental places are the responsibilities of the landlord. And as a newbie landlord, you are hardly wired to pay for gas, lights, water and internet made for several other people. And so is having to implement rules on curfew, visitors, parties, etc.
And also, more commonly, because you are not formally renting out a condominium unit–say, a unit at the glamorous Sri Kia Peng at KLCC– some tenants might not take you and your place so seriously when it comes to rent payment. Some homeowners have had their own fair share of problems with getting their tenants to pay on time. Other minor problems involve taxation, unless you do it underground – which raises the risks on security.
In cases like these, the only real security of landlord is to get everything in writing in the form of contracts will save you from a lot of hassle and yes, money. Prospective landlords should also practice prudence in screening the prospective tenants, as well as create and implement fair rules that cover all concerned.
Tips for Stephanie!
So this is what I told Steph if she insisted on renting her room out –
- Maintain your boundaries. There’s a whole world of difference between being friendly and being friends with your tenant/s. The latter is what you should avoid to be. It will make it difficult to get them to follow your house rules as well as getting the rent promptly.
- Screen your tenants well. Take your time to interview prospective tenants. Don’t just go for the money! You can’t risk housing a convicted felon in your property! Also, it would be very ideal if you require some police documents and clearances that will prove they are free from run-ins with the law.
- Prefer professionals. The last thing you want is a tenant who cannot pay up rent just because s/he is jobless. Go for someone with a stable source of income so your monthly payments are most likely assured.
- Rent it out competitively. Get a fair price for your rooms. Advertise well – go to sites like iProperty, Property Guru, GoodPlace.my, Prop Wall, The Star Property. Pay for premium listings! Get a kick-butt agent to help you (hint hint).
More on this on the next Property4Buyers post, so don’t forget to check our site regularly.
ADDENDUM: Steph had me to help her eventually, and she eventually rented out her master bedroom at Seni Mont Kiara for RM2,500 a month on a two year lease. Hurray!