JOHOR BAHRU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The demand for rooms for rent in Johor Bahru has increased significantly following the reopening of Malaysia's land border with Singapore almost two months ago.
Mr Lim Sie Yan, 40, who owns several properties for rent, has been getting requests from customers since the border fully reopened on April 1.
"All requests are from Malaysians working in Singapore who used to commute between Johor and the island republic daily before the border closed.
"Out of the about 100 rooms that I have, only four are still available," he told The Star.
He said popular locations where rooms were in demand were Taman Century, Taman Pelangi, Taman Sentosa - all areas near Johor Bahru's city centre.
Mr Lim said the room rates had also increased and was now back to pre-pandemic levels.
"During the pandemic, we had to reduce our room rates by half as we were only catering to local tenants.
"However, with the increase in demand, the room rates have now returned to normal," he said, adding that the rooms he provided were currently priced at around RM700 (S$220), compared with only about RM350 during the border closure period.
Property agent Fadhli Ishak, 34, who also rents out rooms in Johor Bahru, said more than half of the rooms he managed were now occupied.
"I used to handle room rentals for three properties around Larkin, but I had to let go of two of them during the pandemic due to low demand.
"Currently, I have 12 rooms and eight of them are now occupied since the border reopened. There have also been overwhelming requests for the remaining rooms," he said.
He said he could only rent out a maximum of three rooms at one time in the past two years.
A property agent, who wanted to be known only as Mr Ong, said the demand for rooms for rent was expected to increase in the weeks to come.
"Currently, there are still many Malaysians working in Singapore who have yet to finish their rental contract on the island.
"We expect more people to look for accommodation in Johor Bahru once their rental agreement in Singapore expires," he said.
"Malaysians working in Singapore usually prefer renting rooms instead of houses as the rate offered for such accommodation includes utilities.
"It usually also comes with Wi-Fi and they do not have to find other roommates to share with."