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Tenant studying in University returned to Libya in Jan 2020 but could not return in Mar 2020 due to Covid.
It is already May 2021. Tenant managed to get a local friend remove his stuffs and terminate rent.
What can I do to get tenant to pay rent owing as he said he is not willing to pay due to  force majeure?


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If you have a Tenancy Agreement (“Tenancy”) signed between you and the tenant, it will be good to refer to it as the first point of reference.

Normally, for residential tenancies and depending on how the force majeure clauses in the tenancy agreement are drafted, the said provisions are usually not applicable for COVID-19 situation as they are often limited to events that result in property damage rendering the property unfit for occupation. In the absence of contractual rights to do so, the tenant cannot refuse to pay rent and can only negotiate with you in good faith to defer, reduce or waive the rent in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the tenant has removed all his belongings, there may be no point to apply for a warrant of distress to recover rent. Do check Tenancy to see if there is any recourse in the event of default in payment of rent, for example, clause that allows you to forfeit the security deposit paid by the tenant. You may also consider getting a lawyer to assist you to issue letter of demand to recover the default rental together with late payment interest specified in the tenancy agreement.

However, do note that you may need to weigh in on the practical matter of ‘cost’, whether it is worth the amount spend on legal cost to recover the sum owed or enforce your legal rights (if any), especially if your tenant has already returned to Libya, where you may need to engage a lawyer from Libya to assist in the enforcement. 

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Thank you for your very prompt response.

Actually the tenant has not removed any of his belonging yet because he needs to pay all arrears of water charges. He does not seem to be keep to pay the Rm300 move out deposit to the management which is fully refunded if there is no damages to common areas while moving out.
In the event he does not want to pay his arrears and does not move out, how can I handle his items without legal ramifications.

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Any form of self-help measures (for example breaking into the unit, disconnecting access to water, electricity etc.) is not advisable because it would put you at risks for being sued by the tenant.

Since the tenant has not removed his belongings, you may consider to engage a lawyer to apply for a distress action to seize his items in the property. The items will then be sold and the monies will be used to pay to settle the rental arrears.

However please note that you may only claim up to 12 months of the outstanding rentals, immediately preceding the date of application for the issue of warrant of distress.

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Thanks for the information. You are an angle in human form :)

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@MyLEGALResponse any successful cases that owner manage to recover the outstanding rental from tenant and claim the legal cost on tenant? 

can we log a report on CTOS trade reference on the tenant due to outstanding rental?