With sky-high property prices, aspiring homeowners turn to dual-key condos for living and rental

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14 — Ganesh Tevadasin bought a condominium unit with two separate entrances at Old Klang Road here last year that allows him to live in and rent out to another couple without compromising on either side’s privacy.

The 29-year-old said he chose it because the dual-key concept accords him precious privacy but also allows him to make money by renting out a section of it, enough to cover a portion of his monthly home loan repayment.

“That kind of housing is quite flexible,” Ganesh told Malay Mail Online in a recent interview.

“If I bought one unit, with one entrance only, if I stay in the master bedroom and rent [out] another two or three rooms, you won’t have any privacy. That’s another reason,” added the engineer.

Ganesh said his side of the house measures some 300 sq ft room and comes with its own bathroom, and he was quick to add, is spacious enough to fit in a fully functional kitchen with cabinets, a rack, a fridge, a stove and oven and a washing machine.

His bachelor pad can even accommodate a king-size bed and a 39-inch television set comfortably, he boasted.

The trend of dual-key condominiums in Malaysia started a few years ago amid skyrocketing property prices that have kept home ownership out of young people’s reach, and now accounts for roughly 10 per cent of new property projects in Kuala Lumpur, according to real estate agent Eric Wong.

Malay Mail Online reported in April that young adults in their 20s and 30s are taking up personal loans, on top of their housing loans, for their first homes due to the prohibitive property prices in recent years.

Buy one, free one

“They say it’s buy one, free one,” Wong told Malay Mail Online in a recent interview, referring to dual-key condominiums.


“Young people who buy it probably rent it out. Their average income is RM3,000. If you buy a house for RM600,000, your instalment is RM2,000 plus. If you rent it out, you can recover your bank loan,” he added.

A dual-key condominium, with the mini-studio unit on the left and the main section on the right. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng

A dual-key condominium, with the mini-studio unit on the left and the main section on the right. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng
A dual-key condominium, with the mini-studio unit on the left and the main section on the right. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng
The selling price of dual-key condominiums in Puchong, for example, ranges from RM650,000 for a 1,200 sq ft unit to RM720,000 for a 1,400 sq ft unit, said Wong.

A 300 sq ft mini-studio unit of a dual-key condominium can be rented out for at least RM900, while a main section 900 sq ft large can be rented out for about RM1,400, he added.

“If your parents or in-laws come from outstation, they can stay with you too,” said the real estate agent, who is based in Kuala Lumpur.

Room to grow

OCR Land Holdings sales and marketing executive director Emily Ong said dual-key condominiums have received overwhelming response from buyers since 2011, with the property developer seeing the trend as the future of the Malaysian housing market.

“We believe this trend was inspired by the current economy whereby people face difficulty to own a property, but dual-key concept allows them to earn rental income which helps them to fulfill their wish by contributing to their monthly installment,” Ong told Malay Mail Online in an email interview.

“Dual-key concept units can be owned for investment, for rental, or even for own stay which accommodates multi-generational living under one roof. With this concept, buyers can stay together with their family members, yet still [have] enough privacy.

“This concept has so much flexibility that allows buyers to be able to rent out the studio unit when the buyer has a small family, then for own use when the family tree grows.

“As for buyers who are frequent outstation travelers, they get to own a studio unit for their own use when they are back in town, [and] at the same time, rent out the bigger unit to contribute to monthly installments. The studio unit can even turn into a workstation space, especially for freelancers,” she added.

Ong said sales of OCR’s dual-key condominium that has already been constructed — Residence 8 in Old Klang Road — achieved an 80 per cent take-up rate within six months of its launch, with the developer planning upcoming dual-key projects in Cheras South as well as one at Jalan Ipoh called “The Pano”.

“There is a higher return on investment with dual-key concept, not just because [of] the high demand in rental. This concept [is] able to fetch higher rental income since it can be rented out as two separate units.

Using Residence 8 as an example, the average rental rate for the entire unit (1,228 sq ft) would be at approximately RM1,800 versus [a] dual-key unit at approximately RM1,300 and RM900 for the respective unit, which comes up to RM2,200 in total, said Ong.

Young people want privacy

Real estate agent Angelly Phang said young people are willing to fork out a little more to rent a mini-studio unit in a dual-key condominium, instead of one room in a typical apartment, to get more privacy.

The main section of a dual-key condominium. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng
“The studio unit is the most suitable for them. The unit no need [sic] to be very big. Like in [a] studio unit, they can have their own toilet, own small kitchen; some units provide washing machines in the studio unit,” Phang told Malay Mail Online.

“Yes, if only rent a room, the price will be cheaper. But everything is [shared], even the toilet, kitchen, living hall etc.; only the room is not. Therefore, mostly singles prefer to stay or rent a studio unit; it’s just like a small house for them, but everything inside!” added the real estate agent, who is based in Kuala Lumpur.

The dual entrances of a dual-key condominium unit. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng
A master bedroom that has its own toilet in a typical condominium unit can be rented for RM800, while other rooms in the unit can be rented for between RM500 and RM600, compared to the mini-studio in a dual-key condominium that can be rented for RM900, according to real estate agent Wong.

Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA) president Siva Shanker said dual-key condominiums can accommodate not just married couples with their ageing parents, but also parents whose young daughter or son stays in the mini-studio unit for some privacy.

“I’m going to say that’s what’s going to happen. It’s going to be increasingly difficult for them to rent or buy or survive in this country. Fortunately or unfortunately, we’ll find a situation where people live [in] family homes for a lot longer,” Siva told Malay Mail Online.


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