Good tenants get the best rental homes

Private Property South Africa
Sarah-Jane Meyer

Building a desirable tenant profile will help tenants to be top of the list of applicants for new rentals. Here's how to do it.

In the first quarter of 2019 almost 40% of tenancy applications were classified as either ‘high risk’ or ‘very high risk’, according to the PayProp Rental Index, a quarterly statistical analysis of the South African residential rental sector.

Wasting time, energy and money on tenants who will default on rental payments or stop paying altogether makes little sense for landlords and managing agents. This is why tenants are carefully vetted before being offered a lease.

As a tenant, there are several steps you can take to ensure you are at the top of the list of applicants for newly listed rental properties. If you constantly pay your rent on time, look after the property you are renting, and keep your credit records healthy you will build a strong tenant profile at tenant profiling firms like PayProp and TPN. This is an investment in your reputation because good tenants get first pick when new properties come up for rent.

The most important step is to pay your rent on time, month after month. Landlords and rental agents look favourably on tenants who meet their financial obligations, and this will put you in a strong position to negotiate more favourable rental increases when your lease is up for renewal. Good tenants will also be more inclined to be granted some leeway when times take an unexpected turn for the worst.

Be flexible and reasonable

The next essential element is to establish a good working relationship with the rental agent and landlord, by being flexible and reasonable during the tenancy.

Keep in mind when you rent an older property, that the landlord is only obliged to offer the property reasonably fit for the purpose for which it is being let and habitable for you to reasonably enjoy.

Landlords must keep up reasonable ongoing maintenance to ensure the property remains habitable. However, they aren’t obliged to repair anything on the property that does not hinder reasonable enjoyment of the property. Landlords must ensure that doors and windows can close and lock, that electrical installations are functioning, sanitary ware and plumbing function reasonably and there is hot water.

Landlords are not obliged to provide new carpets and newly painted walls, or curtains and blinds unless previously agreed to in the lease. Alarm systems or added security are also not obligatory.

Tenants, on the other hand, are required to keep the property clean and take reasonable care in looking after fittings and fixtures.

Give and take

Renting a property is a give-and-take relationship and if the relationship between you and the agent or landlord deteriorates it may be helpful to meet in person to discuss the matter rather than send emails or text messages that may be misconstrued.

If you find maintenance is not being carried out, make a video of the maintenance item and send this to the agent or landlord. Ensure you keep things amicable and keep accurate records of communications.

Credit records

The way you use credit will influence your standing at the credit bureaus and tenant profiling firms. A good credit record will enable you to get other loans on favourable terms in future and will give you the edge when negotiating with landlords.

With a lower credit score, credit providers will charge higher interest rates if they do decide to grant you a loan. And rental agents and landlords will be less inclined to consider your application for rental properties.

The most important factor in your credit score is your payment history. If you miss payments, or habitually pay late, that will be reflected in your credit score. Also, your total debt payments should be no more than 36% of your monthly income.

Keep to the agreement

Keeping your side of the deal in the terms of the lease, as well as being reasonable and transparent with your rental agent or landlord will ensure a good reference and tenant profile. This will stand you in good stead when you negotiate a renewed lease or apply to rent a new property.

Sticking to the above points should help any tenant get an edge, and stand them in good stead to secure a rental property easily.

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