What if your tenant doesn’t pay rent? Apply for a Writ of Distress.

Tenants who currently skip rent payments due to the coronavirus pandemic are protected by our COVID-19 Act.

Having said that, this Article looks at the Landlord remedies for non-payment of rent, if the COVID-19 Act, which is due to expire on 31st December 2021, is not extended.

If you’re having trouble ensuring your Tenants pay their rent, an application for a Writ of Distress may be a good option to recover those unpaid rentals, by seizing and selling movable properties belonging to the Tenant in the rented premises.

Features of Writ of Distress

Who may apply? – The Landlord, or your Agent.

Up to 12 months of rent arrears – The Landlord can recover for up to twelve (12) months of rent arrears from the date of filing the action.

Surprise comes knocking on the Tenant’s door – As it is an ex-parte application, the Tenant will not find out about the action until the Court Bailiff shows up at the front door. More importantly, the Tenant does not get any heads-up and will not have the opportunity to take his properties out of the rented premises.

Disadvantages of Writ of Distress

  • It does not invalidate the Tenancy Agreement between the Landlord and the Tenant. Hence, this option may be suitable for a Landlord who does not intend to terminate the tenancy, but only wants to recover rental arrears.
  • The Landlord cannot claim possession of the rented premises.
  • There is no certainty that the rent arrears can be satisfied with the properties seized and sold. There are cases where the items seized are not worth enough to satisfy your claim for arrears.
  • Specific properties cannot be seized, such as:
  • Clothing belonging to the Tenant.
  • Goods and equipment used in the ordinary course of the Tenant’s business.
  • Properties in the actual use of a person’s hand at the time of the seizure.

What if the Tenant has abandoned the rented premises?

As mentioned above, there is no outright claim for possession under Writ of Distress. However, if the Tenant has abandoned the rented premises, the Landlord may recover possession of his property if there is no application from the Tenant within ten days after the Notice to deliver control to the Landlord is affixed at the rented premises.

What if you have chosen to terminate the Tenancy Agreement and the Tenant refuses to leave?

In such a case, the Tenant is considered to be ‘holding over’, which means the laws you to claim double the rental rate.

Need advice?

These are some practical points to consider in deciding options to deal with your non-paying tenant:-

  • Whether the amount of security deposit is enough to set off against the rental owed?;
  • What’s the outstanding rental amount?;
  • What’s the remaining tenancy/ lease period;
  • What’s the circumstances of the tenant?

Please approach CHERN & CO. to give you a fuller appreciation of the above and other matters relating to your property. We will be able to guide you through the process and explain to you each and every stage of the matter. Please contact us at +603 6419 9511, or email us at info@chernco.com.my.

Alternatively, send us a message through our WhatsApp button below for a faster response!



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