Landlord 101: What are the costs involved? (Part I)
Renting out your homes is a great way to make some extra money. Even so, if you don't put in any money of your own, you won't be able to produce any income; and when you do invest, you must make sure that your earnings exceed your expenses. Consider how much money you want to make in relation to the time and effort you put into the venture so you can plan ahead for the property's financial projections.
Before we go into detail about the first part of the costs involved, read the basic 5 questions if you’re a first-time landlord by clicking here. If you’re good to go, let’s dive deeper into the topic!
As a landlord, it is your duty to make sure that the rental property is "habitable" by maintaining common rooms and plumbing and restoring broken equipment. Here are the things you have to look out for, along with its estimated costs, when performing a maintenance routine of your property.
If you opt to use a cleaning service, expect to pay around RM15/hour on average for their services. In general, abandoned residences require more time to clean because of the lingering dust and debris from renovations or tenants moving out.
It costs roughly RM60 for 4 hours of cleaning depending on how long it takes. Most cleaning companies charge a flat rate of RM100 for empty house/unit cleans, so plan your budget accordingly. The initial clean will likely take 6 hours or more, depending on the size of your property.
If you are supplying a partially or fully furnished home, make sure that all of your appliances are in good working order before you hand it over to a tenant. Schedule an appointment with a maintenance technician in advance to know what needs to be done.
Generally, the costs are:
- RM60-RM160 for an air conditioner service depending on the work necessary
- RM60-RM500 for a fridge service depending on whether parts need to be replaced
- RM70 is the average servicing fee for a washing machine, with components costing up to an additional RM200
Based on the requirements stated in your rental agreement, you may also be expected to keep mending and maintaining these fixtures if they were included in the rental fee. Then you'd be on the hook for repairs and maintenance if your property rental is normally RM1,200 and you charge your tenant an extra RM700 for the furnishings you provide.
The appearance of an older property will be much improved by applying a fresh coat of paint. A can of paint is the only item you'll have to pay for when doing it yourself, and a good can of paint costs between RM110-RM180. You may require around 5 to 10 cans, depending on the size of your home.
Painting services start at RM100 per day for a basic contractor. Costs will vary based on the time and the kind of paint required to accomplish the project.
If your home's painting job takes 3 days to complete, the total cost would be:
RM300 (service charge) + RM540 (4 cans of RM135 per can paint) = RM840.
Upgraded locks for improved security system
For the most part, updating the locks on the window grills or sliding doors will not create any issues. As time passes, locks will start to get rusty and need to be changed. The type and quality of a lock affect its price, which ranges from RM40-RM200.
This step is common when prepping a home to be rented out or to restore its condition from the previous occupant. But what if, at the end of the tenancy, you notice that the wall paint isn’t faded or cracked, but it’s stained? Or the washing machine isn’t working anymore?
In that case, it is considered as damage rather than wear and tear, and it’s often the tenant’s responsibility to reimburse the financial loss. Click here to read more on the differences.
Furnishings and renovation
A sofa, TV and mattress - is it enough? Not really. Frankly speaking, having these three items isn't enough to lead a fulfilling everyday life. There are more demands on fully furnished units as it provides comfort and functionality, so a few thousand ringgit spent here and there shouldn't be an issue.
Furniture costs vary widely depending on the size of the home and your personal style. However, a decent functional home within a fair price range should be within everyone's reach.
Basic cost for a room individual content
Let’s start with the most important component in a home rent - a bedroom! Either you’re renting out a home or a room, a bedroom is an essential part of a rental home as it’s basically a private space for your tenants. Let’s say, you want to go for a more simple and timeless design, yet universal and trendy.
Something for everyone. One can easily think of the minimalist style, associated with the Nordic culture.
So let’s calculate what a basic furnished minimalist bedroom would cost:
- This is, without a doubt, an important item to have in a bedroom. Bed frames come in a variety of designs for you to choose from.
- Consider a bed frame as an important investment since it should be built to last. So don’t hesitate to invest in the high-quality ones!
- It's important to include a headboard since it may double as a statement piece of furniture in your bedroom. Better yet, find a bed frame that comes with a headboard.
TARVA from Ikea
Bed frame, pine90x200 cm
- The key to a good night's sleep is a comfortable mattress, so don't cut corners here.
- Memory foam and spring mattresses are some of the examples of the options you can go for. The advancements in mattress technology over the past ten years have enabled you to find comfortable mattresses at affordable prices.
- Make sure your mattress (and hence your entire bed) will fit in your room. Naturally, you want to be able to spread out in bed, but don't forget that you also need to be able to walk around the room without feeling cramped.
HAFSLO from Ikea
Sprung mattress, medium firm/beige90x200 cm
- An alarm clock, light, phone, or book should all have a place to rest adjacent to the bed.
- The size of a bedside table might differ. Look for one that suits your room's size while also having the capacity to store what is normally put next to your bed.
- For a symmetrical aesthetic, place two nightstands on either side of your bed. If you’re limited by the size of the room (or even budget), just place one next to the bed is enough.
- Recommendation: Make sure you have access to electrical outlets. Place your nightstand near an outlet so that you can charge all of your electrical devices as you sleep.
KULLEN from Ikea
Chest of 2 drawers, white35x49 cm
Basic wardrobe (RM499-2,000)
- In a small bedroom, you may opt for a dresser instead and turn it into a multi-purpose piece of furniture - a nightstand. This saves you money by eliminating the need for a nightstand, and it also frees up extra storage space.
- But in a regular-sized room, having a wardrobe would be handy for the tenants as well, who prefer to hang clothes than fold it.
KLEPPSTAD from Ikea
Wardrobe with 2 doors, white79x176 cm
Average cost of furnishing an entire two-bedroom apartment:
Okay, now we should zoom out a little and focus on the average cost for the entire home basic furnishings, which include some loose (movable) and fixed furniture as well as a decorative item like curtains.
- Loose Furniture ( such as sofa, coffee table, side tables, bed frame, mattresses, cabinet, dining table set, clothes rack, wardrobe) = RM5,000
- Kitchen Cabinets & Island Table Top = RM2,000
- Curtains = RM1,000
But prices vary according to your makeover style. If you want a more detailed breakdown on the cost of a home renovation project which covers carpentry, plastering, painting and wet works, you can read more on the article here.
When renting out your property, the most important question to ask yourself, who will be paying the monthly utility expenses. Will it be you, the landlord, or the tenant?
The truth is, it can be any side. The monthly bills can be settled by either the tenant or the landlord, as long as it is clearly stated in the Tenancy Agreement.
Okay, let’s say you are paying the bills, how do you go about calculating the payments to better allocate your budget and understand the full cost involved? Let’s find out.
Electricity consumption costs vary by family size, living habits, the number of electrical gadgets as well as hours of usage. The rate for domestic consumption is shown in the table below.
To begin, figure out how much power you use each month. It may be unclear at first because you don't know where you stand. Therefore, you can start to familiarize yourself with the following information:
- The capacity of your electrical appliance (W). You'll generally be able to locate this information on the product's packaging.
- Also, on daily basis, how many hours of usage for an appliance?
To calculate electricity consumption:
Number of appliances x Total Capacity (W) x Hours of Usage
Take a look at the appliances in your house and the overall amount of power the appliances consume. For example:
So, the total electricity usage in day in kWh is
= (5,670 + 360 + 6,400 + 16,800 + 30,400 + 1000) / 1000
= 60.63 kWh
Let’s just assume that you have the same amount of electricity consumption for a month (30 days). This means that your monthly consumption is:
= 60.63 kWh x 30 days
= 1818.9 kWh
To find out how much power you'll have to pay for, calculate using the current tariff block.
The block prorate is then multiplied by the tariff rate. The overall cost of electricity usage is then calculated by adding up the amount of each block tariff.
Since the monthly power consumption here exceeds 600 kWh, a 6% service tax will be applied to the additional 918.9 kWh.
In addition, you will be charged with the Renewable Energy Fund (KWWTB), which is 1.6% of your total monthly use.
To read more about the tariff rates, visit myTNB Portal.
As for the water bill, this is how you read the water meter:
- Lift the black meter counter cover which displays the word "SYABAS/Air Selangor".
- The meter counter displays 8 digits; 4 digits in white and 4 digits in red.
- The reading on the meter counter shows the customers’ total water consumption is 748.1910 m³ and therefore the bill is issued as 748 m³.
Here’s an example from Syarikat Air Bekalan Selangor Sdn. Bhd. (SYABAS) on how water rates work.
Source: Air Selangor
Billing days : 31 days
Billing Period : 31 days / 31 days ( 1 month ) = 1.00 month
Consumption : 40 m³
Although it’s good to know about the costs, utility bills are usually paid by tenants. As mentioned earlier, if you wish to include the bill payments as part of the deal, by all means, go ahead.
Either way, make it clear whose responsibility it is in the Tenancy Agreement. If it’s the tenant’s, you can protect yourself as a landlord (in case there’s a default in bill payment) by requiring them to open their own utility accounts and be directly responsible for their own bills. Click here to learn more.
Is it worth the splurge?
After seeing some of the financial responsibilities you have to shoulder as a landlord, you may be wondering if it is a good investment after all. At the end of the day, it matters how much you know what you’re dealing with so you can exercise due diligence and get into the game well-prepared.
While there are numerous costs involved in renting out your property, the advantages aren’t any less. By understanding how much to allocate for maintenance, furnishings and utilities, you would know better on how to manage your income from the rental and thus, improve your opportunity to create positive cash flow from it.