This website is


 Welcome    Main    Forum    FAQ    Useful Links    Sample Letters   Tribunal  


Tenants from hell

17/04/2004 NST-PROP By Salleh Buang

If you have been blessed with extra cash (or have access to an easy-term financing scheme) and property investment is your cup of tea, you’ve probably amassed a portfolio of properties which you’re renting out - residential, commercial, and may be industrial as well. That being the case, you’d probably have only two worries - one, whether you can find a tenant; and two, whether you can find the right sort.

I’d like to deal with the second problem by asking you these questions: What if, after having found your tenant, he appears to be the worst kind you can imagine? What happens if he is a tenant from hell?

No, he might not have tiny horns on his head or the number 666 on his scalp. Nor is he afraid to enter a mosque, church or any other place of worship. He may, in fact, be able to spout religion and quote passages from the Quran, Bible or any other religious book just to impress (and deceive) you into believing just how honest and reliable he is. After first meeting him, you might even wish your child could be just like him.

Take the case of an irate Italian landlord, whose story I came across a while back. He was so fed up with his freeloading tenant (who refused to leave although he had repeatedly failed to pay his rent) that the landlord one day decided to drive his tractor up the garden path and ram down the front door of the house. Well, that made the tenant finally leave, but he still refused to pay up. Would a Malaysian landlord do that? You tell me.

To avoid getting into the same situation, wouldn’t it be a blessing if there is a specialist company in this country which can identify terrible tenants so that you can be spared painful and harrowing encounters?

Such outfits do exist, as a search through cyberspace will reveal. For example, there is a United Kingdom-based set-up called Experian, which is essentially a credit information group; and another called Landlord Action, a landlord support company.

According to Bruno Rost of Experian, a recent survey of 200 property agents in the UK revealed that more than 65 per cent of all tenants turn out to be problem cases. While the most common issue is non-payment of rent, there are also other worrying trends, which include burning or destroying floorboards, doors, skirting boards, and even torching parts of a property. One even discovered that his departing tenant had ripped out all the carpets in the house and dumped them in the garden, together with the entire contents of the house.

Then there was the case of a lady tenant who used her rented home as a massage parlour cum whorehouse.

Rost said since the cost of clearing up the mess left by tenants from hell can be quite considerable, and because the average time needed to get rid of them ranges from three months to a year, landlords should run checks before signing up a tenant.

His service, called Tenant Verifier, conducts for a fee and within 48 hours, a report containing a financial review of a prospective party, and reference from a previous landlord and the employer.

“Tenant checking is an essential part of the letting process, not least when one considers the level of investment at risk in a property,” Rost said.

This is well and good, but what if you are now stuck with a problematic tenant?

This is where the other set-up, Landlord Action, could be of help. It
acts for over 200 agents as well as 500 independent landlords and is essentially a landlord support group, not a firm of solicitors specialising in eviction proceedings.

A member of Landlord Action known only as Jonathan said about 40 per cent of the cases they receive can be resolved after the issuance of appropriate legal notices to quit and yield up possession of the premises. However, he said the remaining 60 per cent need to go further, up to the eviction stage by the court bailiff.

Malaysia’s landlord and tenant law, in many respects, is still in its infancy. If you have taken the time to do a comparative study, you would find that in the UK and United States, there are several modern statutes now in place regulating the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants.

We have none of these. What we have is the general contract law, contained in the Contracts Act 1950, and when it comes to evicting tenants, we have to contend with a couple of sections in the Specific Relief Act.

My problem is that the court cases tend to confuse me more, rather than enlighten me.


Main   Forum  FAQ  Useful Links  Sample Letters  Tribunal  

National House Buyers Association (HBA)

No, 31, Level 3, Jalan Barat, Off Jalan Imbi, 55100, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: 03-21422225 | 012-3345 676 Fax: 03-22601803 Email:

© 2001-2009, National House Buyers Association of Malaysia. All Rights Reserved.