Landlords can be charged with
abetting in a crime
KUALA LUMPUR: There is no law that holds the landlord directly responsible
for illegal activities being carried out at their leased premises.
But the landlord can be charged with abetting in the crime if there is
evidence to show that he knew of the goings-on in his premises.
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs director-general of enforcement Mohd Ros-
lan Mahayudin said if an illegal VCD seller uses a rented premises to run
his business, he will be charged under the Copyright Act 1987 while the
landlord can be charged with abetting.
He advised landlords to protect themselves.
"There must be a tenancy agreement and the tenantís nature of business must
be revealed," he said.
He pointed out that if this is not stipulated in the agreement, the landlord
can find himself in trouble.
Housing and Local Government Ministry parliamentary secretary Dr S.
Subrmaniam said there were many cases where rented shoplots were turned into
unlicensed karaoke outlets, cyber cafes and budget hotels.
In almost all cases, the operators were hauled to court.
Subramaniam, however, cautioned the landlords not to be totally ignorant of
the goings-on in their premises.
"They should not just collect the rent and close one eye to the illegal
activities being carried out there," he said.
"It is difficult to implicate the landlords, but not impossible."
It does not stop there.
The immigration department has provisions in the Immigration Act to hold
landlords responsible for crimes committed in their premises.
Its enforcement director Datuk Ishak Mohamed said landowners can be charged
if illegal immigrants are found in their premises.
They can be charged for harbouring which carries fines up to RM50,000 for
each person, jailed for not more than five years and whipped.