7 Types of Landlords in Malaysia

Jenny and I have had our fair share of renting accommodation. Through our experience, we discovered that landlords’ methods of “work” might vary greatly. In fact, they vary so greatly that it is usually impossible for us to properly set up our expectations in advance. Additionally, as we’ve had “international experience” with renting, we could conclude that these stereotypical landlord types could easily be found in many places around the world. So here goes:

1. The MIA Landlord

You will never see or hear from this guy (or girl) once you move in and pay your deposit. In some situations, you might actually not see them ever at all, because they might have designated all their functions (up to the point of handing out of the keys) to a real estate agent, who handles the whole process. Needless to say, if something unexpected happens, if you might have any complaints, or if you just want to mention that you will be off for a week (just so they are aware), you will be met with silence. An interesting bi-feature of this type of landlord is that he/she tends to appear quickly if you happen to delay your rental payment, or if the next year’s contract needs to be negotiated.

2. The Not-Caring-At-All Landlord

You arrange to check a place. You go in, and you see that there is a 2cm-strong layer of dust, and all the brand-new furniture hasn’t even been unpacked. At your blank stare the agent responds with “the house hasn’t been occupied since it was bought a year ago, and the landlord hasn’t visited since then, either.” Needless to say, this type of landlord is usually a cousin (if not a sibling) of the MIA landlord.

3. The Over-Caring Landlord

Don’t get me wrong, caring for one’s rented property and for one’s tenants is an extremely important detail of good landlord-tenant relationships. However, visiting every couple of weeks to check if everything is OK, and calling every other day to get an update report on anything happening around the area where you are staying might be a bit overboard. You will soon come to realize that this type of landlord rarely cares as much about your welfare, as for if their place is in tact and if you won’t run away with all their furniture. Based on all the horrific stories I’ve heard about tenants stealing everything from light bulbs to auto gates, such type of behaviour might make sense in the Malaysian context.

4. The “Tiny Details” Landlord

You know that deposit you pay when you move in. Well, with this type of landlord you can be sure you will never, ever, get that deposit back. An almost invisible scratch on the table, a stain on the wall (not even caused by the tenant), an unevenness to the flooring (again, not tenant’s fault). No matter how small any of these problems might actually be, and no matter whose fault, this type of landlord will find a way to withhold your deposit to rectify the issue. At later time when you try to follow up and see the receipts for any rectifications that might have been done, this landlord quickly turns into the MIA landlord.

5. The “Wear and Tear” Landlord

You happily move in to your new place. Everything looks relatively fine, although you’ve already noticed (and mentioned to the landlord) that the air conditioner appears to make some noise from time to time. However, the landlord has assured you that it is in perfect condition. A month later, the air con starts leaking. You call the landlord to tell them and you are met with the passive-aggressive “wear and tear” response. According to the Malaysian landlord’s vocabulary “wear and tear” means that you’ve been using the item, and therefore it is your fault and you need to rectify the problem. You call the contractor, and when he comes (together with a solid bill), he tells you that the air conditioner hasn’t been cleaned for at least 3 years and that is the main cause of the leakage.

6. The “I Will Fix It for You” Landlord

This is arguably the best type of landlord of all the mentioned types, because they are pretty much the only ones that do help (at least somewhat). The reason for them to want to fix something on their own is obviously to cut their costs – in which there is nothing wrong, especially if they do know how to fix that something (think boiler, laundry machine). However, the problem is that as it is either them, or their friend/relative, who will be fixing the problem, it might take extremely long time for them to come by and do it. Additionally, they tend to use not necessarily the most suitable materials for the repair work and thus the item tends to get spoilt again after some time.

7. The Perfect Landlord

The perfect landlord signs a contract with you (did I mention that many landlords appear to like to skip this step?) in which there are clearly stated rights and liabilities of both parties. Once something beyond the tenant’s control goes awry, they help get it back on the right track in a timely manner. They come by once every 2-3 months just to check if everything is in order, and if the tenant has any withstanding complaints (with the building management, for instance), so that they could attend to them. We are sure there are such landlords, it is just that we have never had the fortune to encounter them up to now!

Have you had the chance to encounter any other interesting and unique types of landlords?


Sometimes it is better to say “yes” or “no” than to nod or shake your head

I must say that this is one of the weirdest things I’ve encountered in my whole life. Back in Malaysia, when someone asks me a question, I usually include some gestures in addition to my reply. I don’t know why I do that. I guess I just want to be a little more expressive in my reply.

Q: Do you want an ice-cream?
Me: Yes, please! (Nodding vigorously)

Q: Do you wanna go out after work?
Me: (Shaking head slowly). No, I feel a little tired today.

Q: Can I have this document by tomorrow?
Me: (Nod once). Of course, I’ll pass it to you tomorrow morning.

Is there anything wrong with my gestures? Absolutely no!

BUT… if you ever want to visit Bulgaria in future, I highly recommend that you strictly stick to saying just “yes” or “no” instead of nodding or shaking your head. Why is this so? It is because nodding and shaking your head mean exactly the opposite! Huh? Yes, you are right. Back in Malaysia, nodding usually means yes while shaking your head means no. However in Bulgaria, nodding means no and shaking your head means yes.

I am not joking!!

I remember very clearly on my first visit to Bulgaria, my mum-in-law (back then, she was “boyfriend’s mum”) prepared a feast for my arrival. I was very happy that someone whom I met for the very first time actually put in so much effort and prepared so much food to celebrate my arrival. Everyone was very nice to me eventhough I didn’t speak the same language. Mr. Hubby (then, “Mr. Boyfriend”) acted as the translator between me and his family members. The food wasn’t just delicious but they were also nicely decorated too.

Here comes the scandalous part. Everybody was happily eating and chatting. Eventhough we didn’t understand each other, we were all smiles. As we were eating, my mum-in-law popped the questions, “Is the food okay for you? Do you like it?” Mr. Hubby translated. Well, I didn’t speak Bulgarian but I was thinking that even if I reply “yes” (in English), they should be able to understand me. So, I replied like I usually do, in addition with the head gesture.

Mum-in-law: Is the food okay for you? Do you like it?
Me: (Nodding vigorously), YES! YES!

Do you get the picture of what just went wrong? Yes, I just nodded vigorously. Nodding in Bulgaria means NO. So I supposed nodding vigorously means NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!! When I was nodding, I actually didn’t look at them face to face. I was too shy, after all it was my first time meeting my boyfriend’s parents and I just wanted to be as proper as possible (ahem!). Then I realised something was wrong. How come everyone became quiet after I replied? So I looked up and I saw that everyone stared at me in shock.

Well, Mr. Hubby then explained to me that nodding means no and shaking head means yes. Seriously, at that time I just wanted to dig a hole somewhere and hide inside forever. Looks like my plan to be proper failed miserably. So, I was in shocked and I explained that what I really meant was “Yes, I love it” and NOT “No, I don’t like it”. Mr. Hubby translated. We had a good laugh. It was so nice that they were so understanding and didn’t blame me for that.

Honestly, until today I still can’t get used to the Bulgarian styles of nodding and shaking heads. I mean, for 20+ years, I’ve been nodding for agreement and shaking my head for disagreement. It’s very difficult for me to change it, no matter how I force myself to. Now, I avoid using any head gestures. I stick to just saying “Yes” or “No”.

Have you ever encountered any situation like this? Share your stories with me!