How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Rental Properties

Private Property South Africa
Private Property Reporter

Property owners often complain about their tenants. Late payments, damage to rental properties and noisy tenants are just a few of the grievances that property owners frequently air. While the complaints are often valid, tenants can also experience their fair share of problems. In most cases communication is the best way to ensure a good relationship with your landlord. Rental properties advertised in newspapers and on property websites are often rented out by the owners themselves. This means that no middleman or estate agent will be involved and tenants will have to deal with the owner personally. In such cases it is even more important to establish a good relationship with the landlord – getting broken pipes or windows fixed in a timely manner will often hinge on this relationship. Before signing a lease agreement, prospective tenants should make a list of all the items in the house that need attention. This should include broken tiles or taps, holes in the walls or anything else that they could be liable for when they vacate the property at the end of the lease agreement. They should give a copy of the list to the owner and he or she should agree to fix it or sign an agreement that they are aware of the problem and won’t expect the tenant to pay for it at a later stage. Most lease agreements for rental properties require tenants to pay a deposit. The deposit will usually be equal to one month’s rent. The landlord should pay the money into an investment account on the tenant’s behalf and according to legislation interest is payable on the deposit. The landlord can use the deposit to pay for any damage that the tenant caused to the property. Tenants should make sure that the rental contract is clear about the deposit and what it can be used for. All lease agreements for rental properties should stipulate how and when the rent should be paid and how often rental payments will increase. Tenants should never pay their rent in cash. They should use internet banking facilities (Electronic Funds Transfer – EFT) or a direct deposit at their bank and make sure they obtain proof of each payment in writing. It is a good idea to file all the documents and proof of payment in a safe place where it is easily accessible. If possible, previous tenants should be contacted about their experience with the prospective landlord. Some landlords are completely oblivious to the fact that while they are the owners of the property, they cannot come and go as they please. Previous tenants can shed light on the lease relationship. It is not always easy to find a trustworthy tenant that will pay on time. Tenants should use this to their advantage. Owners of rental properties will often keep the rent unchanged for long periods of time if they have a reliable tenant who looks after the property and pays their rent on time.

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