Landlord 101: What are Your Responsibilities?

In our last article, we discussed in general the five most important and basic tips a landlord should know before renting out their home. If you haven’t gone through the first part of this article, check out Landlord 101: 5 Questions First-Time Landlords Should Ask. Otherwise, let’s jump straight into what constitutes your responsibilities as a landlord.

Insure the property

Home insurance is property insurance that guards against the loss or damage of your house and its contents. Liabilities against accidents occurring within your house or on your property are also covered by home insurance. When buying an insurance policy, there are three types you can choose from. They differ in terms of the amount of coverage and costs. The policies are: 

1. Basic Fire Policy

This policy protects your structure from loss or damage caused by fire, lightning and explosion. It’s the most basic one, and only covers on a replacement-cost basis for damages, rather than the value of the property. The policy, however, can be extended (as an add-on) to include a range of covers caused by natural disasters such as storms, hurricanes, floods, sink-hole and earthquakes. 

2. Houseowner Policy (Building)

Homeowner's policy will give extra levels of protection for your residential property, compared to the basic fire policy. Therefore, your home's physical structure, such as its walls and roof and any fixtures or fittings, will be covered in case of severe weather damage, flooding, fire, or other disasters that might cause destruction. 

3. HouseHolder (Content)

This policy adds another layer of coverage for fire, lightning, explosion, water, and other perils that might harm your property and - unlike the other two policies above - the contents of your home. That’s not all; an insured member who dies from an accident will still be covered under this insurance.

*These exclusions can be covered under your respective policy for an additional premium. Source: iMoney

These policies protect you from a broader variety of risks. However, the more policies you get, the more you have to pay. Thus, make sure you only buy what is necessary to you. Additionally, you can discover different options and what each has to offer, its cost and see which one best suits your requirements. 

These are some of the most popular home insurance options in Malaysia that you can look into:

Allianz Smart Home Cover

AIA A-Essential Home

Maybank Houseowner/Householder

Great Eastern Easi-Home

AmAssurance Houseowner and Householder Insurance

Tokio Marine Houseowners/Householders Insurance

Etiqa Houseowner and Householder Takaful

Resolve issues related to utilities

Although utility bills are conventionally a tenant’s responsibility, landlords are obligated to ensure that all the appliances supplied as listed in the inventory are in good working order at the beginning of a tenant’s tenancy. Therefore, any issue related to utilities needs to be resolved by the landlord. So, where do you start?

Before acquiring a tenant, you should do a thorough inspection of the unit and make sure there are no damages. There are several critical elements that you should never try to cut corners on due to the fact that these items will affect the wellbeing and liveability of the tenant.

1. Electrical

Always check that the electrical system, which includes everything from outlets to light fixtures and everything in between, is in working order. For example, a functional and safe electrical system, including outlets, is a must for a livable dwelling. If an electrical outlet stops working for no apparent reason, it is the landlord's obligation to figure out what's causing the problem and make the necessary repairs. Because a faulty electrical outlet can often be related to a more serious electrical system problem in the property, thus, it’s in the owner’s best interest to get repairs made as soon as possible.

2. Gas

To ensure your tenants’ safety, you need to perform a regular gas safety check. Have a qualified engineer inspect any gas canisters in the house, which should be done once or twice a year. It’s crucial to check the expiry date for the cylinder, valve, hose and regulator or if they're leaking gas. This is really important if your tenant is allowed to cook in the kitchen. Have the engineer double-check the installation for accuracy and safety. Remember, if you smell odour, DO NOT turn on or off any electrical devices. Doing so can cause electrical sparks, and set the gas on fire or cause an explosion.

3. Water

It is the landlord's obligation to make the necessary repairs to water damage. Don’t forget to carry out regular inspections of the home’s plumbing systems. This may help you to detect potential problems and fix them as soon as possible, besides ensuring that the plumbing systems are functioning at optimal levels. Overflowing toilets, ruptured pipes, and malfunctioning water heaters are all examples of plumbing crises that require attention. Look for some major signs of water damage such as weird odors and brown blotches.

Anticipating and resolving problems before they become major issues is the key to a smooth, cost-effective and profitable management of your property!

Ensure property is habitable

A landlord is responsible for making sure that a property is safe to live in. This entails doing any necessary repairs and whatever else is necessary to keep the property in good working order. As mentioned before, a landlord must examine and repair any flaws or dangers that may present in the rented property prior to a tenant's move-in date.

If a property has faults or dangers that may constitute a potential hazard, the landlord should not rent it out before getting it fixed. Other than safety, it’s also important to make sure your future tenant is getting what they are paying for, which is the right to a place with a livable condition. Here are some of the things you need to observe:

1. Kitchen

Kitchens must have a sink large enough to wash dishes and cooking utensils, a functional stove and oven unless the signed tenancy agreement specifies that the tenant is responsible for providing these items, and electrical hook-ups for the installation of a refrigerator. If your property offers a refrigerator, make sure to keep it in excellent working order.

2. Structural Elements 

You must keep the floors, walls, doors, windows, ceilings, roof, stairwells, balconies and all structural elements in good conditions and fit for human occupancy at all times so that they are protected from extreme weather, moisture and leakage.

3. Infestation

The common spaces and the entire unit must be kept clean and free of rat, insect, and other infestations. Negligence on this part can pose a health risk on the occupants. Therefore, carry out a detailed inspection of your home and call a pest control service if you found that your property is infested.

Is everything under control?

It’s important to protect both yourself as a landlord and your occupants. By observing your responsibilities, you can be assured that the management of your property is taken care of. Protect your property with insurance, fix any utility malfunctions and perform important maintenance work to ensure your tenant’s habitability is important… and tedious. So there’s no harm in getting the help you need.

Sign up with Instahome and let us help you. We will perform an inspection with you prior to a tenant’s move-in and also assist you in finding maintenance providers to help you get started. In fact, we are here to help landlords from the start until the end so you’ll have the best landlord experience when renting out your home with us!

Email us at bd@instahome.com for any questions.