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Things You Should Know About Renting in Malaysia

Whether you are flying the nest for the first time or are relocating overseas, there is much to learn about renting in Malaysia. With less commitment and increased flexibility, a growing number of people are choosing to rent as opposed to buying. Continue reading to find out everything you need to know about Malaysia’s booming rental market. 

Residency status 

Before you start the search for your next rental property in Malaysia, you must assess your residency status. If you are a permanent resident, you will be subject to the same regulations as local residents born and bred in the country. If you are a non-resident, however, you must familiarise yourself with a few rules. You will be required to provide documents confirming the reason behind your visit to Malaysia as well as the expected length of your stay. Landlords may also request assurance that you will adhere to the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement and ask to view a copy of your passport or employment letter as confirmation. Because of these risks, property owners are often wary about renting to non-residents. If you have resided in the country for 182 days or more, you are eligible to pay tax. This can reassure your landlord that you are a responsible tenant and intend to stay for a prolonged period of time.

Tenancy length 

One of the first decisions you should make is the length of time you are planning to spend in your new rental property. This can differ depending on whether you are looking to settle down or whether you just require a short-term lease for a temporary business trip. If you hold a tourist visa or term visa and do not plan to stay for longer than 12 months, this is considered a short-term stay. This applies to travellers relocating for a special event, business trip, or extended vacation. However, if you plan to stay for less than three months, you are encouraged to seek out alternative short-term accommodation options such as a hotel or an Airbnb. In order to live in Malaysia for a year or more, you must be a permanent resident, a student enrolled in a long-term course, a member of the Malaysia My Second Home programme, or an employee with a visa of one year or more.  


One of the first factors you should familiarise yourself with as a renter in Malaysia is tax. Cukai pintu, or assessment tax, is calculated based on the annual rental value of your property. It is assessed by property type, specification, and location. Once this has been determined, you will be charged a set percentage rate which will be collected by your local council authority. There is no universal amount and it tends to vary from state to state but it is usually 4% of the annual rental value of the property. It is also worth noting that only incomes with a source in Malaysia are taxed and profits sources elsewhere are not usually subject to income tax rates. 


As well as tax, there are a number of renters fees you must familiarise yourself with before you sign your lease. Stamp duty is a one-off payment equalling 15% of your monthly rent. You may also be required to pay two months’ worth of rent as a security deposit which is refundable upon completion of your tenancy if the property has not sustained any damage or destruction during your stay. A utility deposit is usually also required which is also refundable upon completion of your tenancy as well as up to one month’s rent payment in advance. These fees are mandatory for both Malaysian and foreign renters. 


If you have selected a property and wish to proceed with the tenancy, there are several documents you must prepare ahead of time as a foreigner. For example, most landlords require a copy of a valid passport with a minimum of six months validity. In addition, they may require valid visa proof. Examples include a working permit or a long-term student visa. An employment letter is desirable but not a necessity to rent a property in Malaysia. An offer letter from a local college or university is also a great way to prove your intention to live in and study in the country on a long-term basis. Once you have read and agreed to the terms and conditions stated in your lease, the tenancy agreement is the final document that must be signed. 

Renting in Malaysia can be a complicated process for locals as well as ex-pats. By familiarising yourself with everything you need to know ahead of time, you can streamline the entire process and find the perfect rental property for you. This includes assessing your residency status, deciding your tenancy length, educating yourself on the various different taxes and fees required and preparing the relevant documents in advance.