23 Jan - 5 min read
Have you ever considered being on the other side of Airbnb by renting out the spare room you have in your house? You may think that this is only possible if you own the house yourself, but in fact, you can still rent out a spare bedroom to a guest even if you yourself are renting the place. This practice is called subletting or sub-leasing. Not only is this a lucrative practice, providing a tidy side income, it’s also a good way to make use of that empty spare bedroom you have that’s just sitting there.
As with many new endeavours, it can be intimidating to start subletting your place right away, but we’ve made a handy guide to help you with the basics of subletting.
Tenancy agreements in Malaysia typically do not allow for subletting. However, you can always ask your landlord whether or not they’re willing to allow you to do so. Chances are good that they would be understanding. Keep in mind that government housing units are legally never allowed to be subletted to any third party, but privately owned housing can. It still depends on what your landlord says about the situation.
To make it easy for them to say yes, convince them that any dealings regarding rent or utility payment still goes through you. This minimizes the hassle for them and is also good practice for being a subletter. You may be tempted to start subletting without informing the owner of the property but should things go wrong with your tenants or if they start suspecting something amiss, they may end up evicting them (and you). That is not what we want here.
Just because you own the place or have permission from the owner, doesn’t mean everything else is automatically hunky dory. Subletting your place means your house is now vulnerable to potential theft, property damage, and other risks that you will now have to be responsible for. Make sure you and everyone else living with you already know the risks involved.
Remove any valuables or costly furniture that you don’t want ruined or any private items that you wouldn’t want strangers to find or rummage through. The financial rewards for subletting can be attractive but you have to ensure that everyone else in the house is comfortable with the liabilities involved, too.
Before even beginning to look for tenants, one thing that can be of tremendous help is to have a reference notebook. In it, you should have pictures of the house, descriptions of any pre-existing damages, facilities, landmarks, and other details. Things you may already be familiar with in the house may be a jarring surprise to someone new.
Having details described up front will also help you claim for damages if any happen. Inside this notebook should also be information on when you expect which payments to arrive, important contact numbers, specific house rules, what to do in case of emergencies, and so on.
With safety in mind, it’s wise to begin looking for tenants from the people you already know. Ask around among your friends, family or close acquaintances. They’re less likely to screw you over with late payments or property damage. In fact, they’re more likely to have a vested interest in keeping your house and your belongings safe.
If there really is nobody in that circle who can be potential tenants, you can start with advertising at a nearby college. Student can always use places to stay, and there may sometimes be visiting professors on sabbatical looking for temporary lodging.
There’s no better way to say this, but it’s important in searching for tenants that you screen for potential weirdos. You can do this by paying attention to how they communicate via phone or email. Alternatively, you can ask them to go through a quick interview. One good line of questioning is why they’re choosing to rent at your place and what happened with their previous landlord. Don’t be afraid to ask personal questions as this person will effectively live with you for however long they want their tenancy to last. A problematic tenant can cause problems down the road you may not be equipped to deal with.
Don’t forget to include the other members of the house in the interview. A potential tenant who seems uncomfortable to live with you may be just shy or tired and you may not be the one who picks that up. Also, a candidate who gets along swimmingly with the majority of your household except for you should still be considered as long as they don’t annoy you too much.
Once you find a suitable tenant that everybody agrees on, the next step is to ensure that you get everything in writing. Ask for references, request a deposit, and load up a quick written agreement for them to sign once they’re confirmed. You will have to be a landlord of sorts to the tenant, therefore you must start acting like one. Having everything written down helps keep dealings well-documented and avoids any hanky panky.
Subletting is a good way to make some cash on the side, and you may already have the capital you need to get this one going. It’s also a good way to get to know new people without having to get out of the house. Do you guys know of any other subletting tips for newbies that we missed out on? Maybe you have a subletting story of your own you want to share with us? Do let us know in the comments section below!