Advice for rental agents – how to assess tenants

Advice for rental agents – how to assess tenants

Private Property South Africa
Sarah-Jane Meyer

Properly vetting tenants is essential for the success of any rental property. It’s even more important when the market slows down and when demand is limited, according to Jacqui Savage, National Rentals Manager for the Rawson Property Group.

“It can be tempting to ignore the vetting process to fill a vacant property more quickly. But I cannot emphasise enough how risky this is. It’s far more difficult to get rid of an unreliable or non-paying tenant than it is to place a reliable one at the outset. And professional legal help is costly,” she says.

“All our rental partners learn from the beginning that it is never worth taking a risk with the landlord’s investment.”


It’s advisable to perform background checks before taking a prospective tenant to view a property.

That way, you will know from the start that they can afford the property they’re looking at and aren’t wasting the landlord or current tenant’s time.

It will also give you peace of mind that they don’t present a security risk during the viewing and serves as a safety protocol during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The pre-qualifying background check is a time-saver, as we can guide tenants towards properties that meet their personal preferences, fit their financial and lifestyle profiles,” says Savage.

“Prospective tenants also benefit from this arrangement by avoiding unnecessary viewings of properties they are unlikely to qualify for.”

For Rawson Rentals’ background checks, prospective tenants are asked to fill out a declaration of expenses document as well as an application form to kick off the vetting process.

The application form grants consent for the agency to perform various credit checks that give a comprehensive overview of the applicants’ finances and reliability profile.

Overview check

Compiling the applicants’ overview includes collecting the following details:

  • A credit and identity check through the credit bureaus.

  • Confirmation of income and employment, through payslips and calls to employers.

  • Confirmation of monthly expenses using three months of verified bank statements.

  • Personal references from previous landlords - if applicable - by phone call.

Tenant information

“Only when tenants confirm their interest in a rental do we pass on the application and vetting documents to the landlord. Once we have the green light from the landlord, we draw up the lease documents and move forward from there,” says Savage.

“Prospective tenants who are not interested in any of the rental options that we take them to see, keep their full credit report and documents. This is in keeping with the requirements of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), which has been in operation since 1 July.”

Rental agency service

Vetting tenants is an essential part of navigating a challenging rental market, but it’s not the only reason to use a rental partner to manage your property.

Legal compliance, financial and maintenance management, and rental documents compliant with the POPI Act are equally important aspects of managing rental properties.

Most professional rental agencies rely on modern digital platforms to streamline their rental management solutions and support their clients’ rental asset growth goals. This allows them to use services and information that is not readily accessible for most landlords.


Found this content useful?

Get the best of Private Property's latest news and advice delivered straight to your inbox each week

Related Articles

Advice for estate agents – how to stay motivated
How agents can keep themselves motivated - even when working in virtual isolation.
REBOSA guidance on real estate operations under latest restrictions
Real Estate Business Owners of South Africa (REBOSA) has urged agents to follow strict Covid-19 protocols. What type of guidelines have been put in place?
eXp Realty SA – The Disruptive Newcomer into SA Property Space
South Africa] eXp Realty, the innovative cloud-based real estate brokerage, is one of the fastest-growing in the world.