Renting Homes in Indonesia

Clay tile roofs are the norm in Indonesia.

Clay tile roofs are the norm in Indonesia.

With this post we’ll attempt to list a few of things that are good to know about home rental in Indonesia. The below information is specifically for rental of typical Indonesian homes, not apartments in the large city skyscrapers. Rental costs of the homes discussed are in the range of $300 – $10,000 per year.)

  • Rent is paid up front, for the entire year. Sometimes a 2-year payment is required.
  • Rent typically goes up 10% when the contract is extended. Many Indonesian renters move every year or so as to keep their rent cost down.
  • Having an Indonesian friend make initial contact with a landlord may enable the foreigner to obtain a lower price.
  • Negotiations about the home to be rented should include a pre-rental inspection of the home’s condition (electricity, roof, plumbing, AC, structural integrity, etc.). The building codes that are in place are rarely, if ever, enforced. Many homes are built with no concern for the safety of the renters, nor for the quality of work done.
  • It is rare for roofs not to leak and water to seep in through walls, creating a lot of mold. This is a very common situation, and sometimes impossible to stop.
    • The landlord of one home we rented insisted the roof didn’t leak, although we were looking up through the fallen ceiling, through broken roof tiles, and was enjoying the sunshine from inside the home!
    • In another home we rented, rain water would seep through the walls, causing us to have to battle with mold (mold is very common problem).
    • We looked at some newly constructed homes that were only 1 month old, and the roofs were already leaking. Not surprisingly, they only give a warranty on new home roofs for a few months.
  •  If there are defects in a home you are looking to rent, make a list of the repairs desired and ask the owner to make the repairs. This must be done before the renter takes possession. Many landlords do not have the money to make repairs on the home to be rented and will ask for a percent of the rent money upfront with which to make the repairs.
  • After entering into a contract, renters are responsible for their own repairs, if they want them to be made. The owner will not repair the home during the time of the renter’s contract—unless specific contract wording states differently. Most of the time there is no formal written contract. We have only had verbal contracts.
  • Renter’s insurance is never thought of and the owner isn’t responsible if there’s a disaster.
  • Ariston Water Heater (electric)

  • It is rare to find a home with hot water plumbed to the sink. A few homes will have hot water heaters in the bathrooms. Dishes are washed in cold water only, as are clothes. The hot water heaters are either small gas or electric ones, which are usually the “hot water on demand” type, or it may have a very small capacity tank (3-4 gallons). Though not common, solar hot water tanks are available.
  • Homes are not subject to strict building codes. This leaves the door wide open to many dangerous situations with electricity. Fences and walls almost always have spears on the tops, or broken glass embedded in concrete to ward off would be thieves. It makes for a dangerous playground for children!
  • Sealing a home from the entry of roaches, mosquitoes, rats, lizards, and flies, etc., is possible, but it takes extra effort. Most Indonesian homes do not have screens on the windows or doors. Most homes have large vents over each window and door and they are rarely, if ever, screened in.
  • Most homes have low wattage light bulbs. Many Indonesians use lower wattage to conserve electricity. For renters who like bright rooms, all light bulbs in the home will have to be changed.
  • Toilets in almost all homes are the “squat” type. Renters can install a western style toilet, but the expense will be your own, and you may be asked to pay upfront for a squat toilet to be installed when your contract expires and you move out.

Bak (water tank), Payung (scoop for flushing and bathing), and Squat Toilet

  • Since most Indonesians use a bak and payung (water tank and plastic scoop) to flush the toilet, as well as with which to bathe, bathroom floors are designed to stay wet all the time.
  • Questions to ask neighbors around the home you are considering renting:
    • Does the area ever flood?
    • Do the wells in the area go dry?
      • Many homes have their own personal well and they frequently go dry during the dry season if they are not deep enough.  Because of the poor well construction, many wells become muddy and are almost always polluted with surface contaminants (tap water in Indonesia can not be drank).
    • Are there oil fields close by?
      • Around oil fields, many people’s wells—their only source of water—are contaminated with oil.
    • City water is available in some cities, but the water quality may not be as good as the well water.
      • Tap water in the entire country is not suitable for consumption without first boiling or filtering.
  • Electrical current (220 volts) may not support the appliances you typically use. Most homes have 1,300 watts coming into them (many hair driers in the US require 1,800 watts). The wattage can be raised to 2,200, for an additional cost to yourself. We have heard of very elaborate homes with many air conditioners and other miscellaneous appliances. Those home may need 6,6000 watts. When you leave the home you may be asked to lower it back to 1,300 watts. Most landlords will require that you pay for the expense to lower the wattage upfront. If you only have 1,300 watts, you may be able to run one air conditioner, refrigerator and lights, but if you try to turn something else on you will trip the breaker.
  • Electricity outside major cities frequently goes out. It may be necessary to purchase a generator. A suitable generator for most families can be obtained for $200-400. If you want a generator that comes on automatically, additional expenses will be required to install that equipment.
  • Washing machines for clothes are available (very small capacity), but we have yet to see a dryer. We’ve also not yet seen a dishwasher.

    Karcher Model: A 2504

  • Vacuum sweepers are available, but rarely used. If you purchase one, it’s recommended that you purchase a very good quality one, with an international name, rather than one of the locally manufactured ones. Be aware that most stores outside of major cities do not stock dust bags, or filters for the sweepers they sell.