KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 26 — Rental property management site iBilik said that despite the crackdown on partitioned rooms, they are necessary for youths and the bottom 40 per cent of earners (B40) as they cannot afford entire units.

In a recent statement, iBilik said that more than six million Malaysians currently rely on full or partitioned room rentals, many of them tertiary education students and working adults aged 18 to 39 years old.

“The recent media reports on partitioned rooms and disciplinary actions taken by the Ministry of Local Government Development (KPKT) have been justified in those specific black sheep cases.

“Unfortunately, this has also fed into an inaccurate narrative surrounding partitioned rooms as a whole that needs to be corrected,” it said.

It cited its own recent survey which it said found over half of more than 20,000 respondents have a rental budget between RM300 and RM600 per month, which is far below the lowest median rental price for a one-bedroom apartment in Kuala Lumpur, which is RM1,400.

“In addition, contrary to the misconception that partitioned room sizes are unacceptably small, the average partitioned room is actually 80 square feet (7.43 square metres),” it added.

It explained that this is how partitioned rooms and room rentals can bridge the gap for affordable housing for those who cannot afford to rent an entire unit for themselves by providing smaller and cheaper spaces.

“Our intention has always been to provide affordable, comfortable housing that can accommodate various needs. We want to equip as many people as possible with a safe, convenient, and pleasant living environment regardless of their limited budget.

“Without room rentals or moderately partitioned rooms, these young and ambitious hopefuls will be set back with nowhere else to go,” said iBilik co-founder and chief executive Lee Seng Hee.

A check on iBilik’s website showed an example of a partitioned room rented out in SS1, Petaling Jaya for RM490 a month. The narrow room contained what appeared to be a small single mattress and bed frame, a wall fan and a portable wardrobe closet.

According to the room advertisement, the following facilities are included: a table and a chair, Internet, a washing machine, a clothes drying rack, water heater, water dispenser, closed-circuit television (CCTV), and an induction cooker.

The advertisement also boasted access to the Taman Bahagia light rail transit (LRT), which it said is within 1km walking distance, and the Petaling Jaya free city bus service, which stops opposite the house.

Another partitioned room advertised on iBilik showed a narrow and long room containing a small single mattress, a chair, a table and an air-conditioning unit.

The rental fee for the room, located at SS15 in Petaling Jaya, was set at RM540 per month. The facilities were similar, but the rental includes a weekly cleaning service.

Last week, national news agency Bernama reported KPKT Minister Nga Kor Ming as saying that his ministry will take stern action against those who rent out small and narrow rooms.

KPKT would issue warnings against those who renovate their houses without permission from local authorities, Nga reportedly said.

Prior to that, Sinar Daily had reported on rental rooms “the size of a grave”. The report described a premise measuring roughly 1,300 square feet and containing 38 capsules, which could only be used for rest and sleep.