In a perfect world, the relationship between a landlord and a tenant would be free from trouble. But that’s not the world we live in. Sometimes things go sour to the point that tenant eviction is the only option left.
There’s a reason why people avoid the possibility of evicting a tenant. Landlords usually hope it’s the last resort. Other than the human aspects of it, there’s a complicated legal process that needs to be followed. Here are the things you need to know about before evicting a tenant in Malaysia:
1. The importance of a well-written tenancy agreement
This might seem pretty obvious, yet there are still plenty of cases of landlord and tenants failing to have a thorough and well-written tenancy agreement. A tenancy agreement is a legal covenant between a landlord and a tenant. It outlines the duties and obligations of each party during the tenancy period. It also provides a detailed description of the property being rented out, along with its furniture, fixture, and other amenities.
Many terms of tenancy need to be specified in a tenancy agreement. Therefore, the details have to be worded so that there is minimal room for misunderstanding. Disputes often arise when important scenarios and issues aren’t covered in the tenancy agreement. Therefore, to ensure the document doesn’t leave out any important details, landlords are advised to hire a lawyer to draft the tenancy agreement. Potential tenants can consult their lawyer to review the agreement and make any changes before signing.
2 . You need a valid reason for evicting your tenant
Usually, issues arose when the tenant failed to pay rent or when some personal problems between the landlord and the tenant. You can’t kick a tenant out just for giving you a hard time but there are situations which are valid reasons for evicting your tenant. This includes the following:
- Unpaid rent/ failing to pay rent
- Causing major damage to the property
- Breach of the tenancy agreement
- Pet rules
3. Try to reason with your tenants before eviction
Before deciding to evict a tenant, you should at least look for the less messy ways to resolve the issues. Try to reason with your tenant and discuss alternatives that are best suited for both parties. Sometimes you can see a solution to their problems that they cannot. Also, you may want to discuss in a public area. That way, none of you will likely cause drama.
4. Why is an eviction notice necessary?
Landlords may not evict their tenants or recover possession of the house or room without a court order. As the landlord, you would need to obtain a possession order by the court to recover possession of the premises from the tenant according to Section 7 (2) of the Specific Relief Act 1950. This applies even though the tenancy agreement allows you to recover possession of the premises upon default on the rent.
Not just that, without the necessary court documents, a landlord is prohibited from resorting to changing the locks or kicking out the tenant. Furthermore, they can be sued for trespassing by the tenant if they do so.
With the assistance of a lawyer, the landlord should first give the tenant a notice to adhere to the rules in the tenancy agreement which they defaulted on (for example: to pay the rent). If the tenant still fails to do so, the landlord can then serve the tenant with an eviction notice and file a suit to obtain a court order.
5. Finally issuing an eviction order
Now the eviction process begins. A notice of eviction should include a grace period. This provides the tenant with the necessary time to pack and make plans to leave.
A landlord can file an eviction order in court if the tenant refuses or fails to leave the premises after the notice period ends.
The eviction order against the tenant will include:
- Recovery and possession of the property, and all possessions belonging to the landlord
- All outstanding rental payment
- Double rental payment (if the tenant remains past the due date)
Unfortunately, though, an eviction order could take anywhere from three to six months at the Sessions Court. Furthermore, the total cost for a landlord usually amounts to RM7,000 to RM25,000.
6. Evict the tenant
After the hearing, the tenant will have a set amount of time to leave the property. This deadline is included for them to settle their dues or to give enough time for them to pack up and move out. Also, this is to make sure that the handover will be done properly including returning the keys, clearing outstanding rent payments etc.
7. What happens if the tenant leaves but keeps the locks on?
As mentioned earlier, a property owner may not evict a tenant or recover possession of the house/room without a court order.
There are instances when the tenant leaves the premises without informing the landlord yet keeps it locked. There are two possibilities for this: they forgot, or did it out of spite. Either way, the tenant then brings up charges of a civil suit against the landlord for breaking the lock.
For this specific scenario, as a landlord, you should contact the tenant to unlock the premises. If this fails, this is the process you should follow:
- Lodge a police report and break the lock in the presence of a police officer and an independent witness
- Upon entering, take as many photos of the interior and all properties. This is needed to protect from any false claims by the tenant
- Place a notice on the door of the property informing the tenant to contact the landlord if they wish to collect their possessions. Include a photocopy of the police report also to show that the premises were entered legally
8. Protecting yourself as the landlord
Do not attempt to evict the tenant yourself. You can find yourself in legal trouble even though the tenancy agreement allows you to recover possession of the premises upon default on rent.
According to Section 7(2) of the Specific Relief Act 1950:
‘Where a specific immovable property has been let under a tenancy, and that tenancy is determined or has come to an end, but the occupier continues to remain in occupation of the property or part thereof, the person entitled to the possession of the property shall not enforce his right to recover it against the occupier otherwise than by proceedings in the court.”
Instead, follow the processes we mentioned earlier to protect yourself as a landlord.
9. Remember to select quality tenants for ease of mind!
As mentioned earlier, evicting a tenant is a messy process and one most would like to avoid. You should instead check the background of all your potential tenants.
If you want to increase your chances of getting quality tenant applications, you can list your rental property here at Malaysia’s No.1 property site iProperty.com.my! With more than 3 million visits each month, iProperty.com.my is the market-leading property portal, offering a search experience in both English and Bahasa Malaysia.
iProperty.com.my also provides consumer solutions such as LoanCare – a home loan eligibility indicator, News & Lifestyle channel – content to enhance the consumers’ property journey, events – to connect property seekers with agents and developers offline, and much more.
Edited by Rebecca Hani Romeli
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