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Landlords can be charged with abetting in a crime
23/01/2007 NST

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.


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