How to select the correct tenant

How to select the correct tenant

Private Property South Africa

Leasing property is a great way to earn a passive income, but it also has its own set of associated risks. The greatest of these risks is a defaulting tenant who can end up costing landlords a fortune on missed rent and legal fees to get the tenant evicted.

For this reason, Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa explains that selecting a suitable tenant is the key to the success of any rental portfolio. “Working through a reputable rental agent is the safest and most efficient way to ensure that the selected tenant will not default on payments or cause unnecessary damages to the property,” he advises.

According to Goslett, any reputable rental agent will be trained to know how to properly vet potential tenants to ensure that they meet the necessary affordability criteria. This is critical to avoid the costly process of having to evict a non-paying tenant.

Before beginning the search for a tenant, Goslett also highlights the importance of determining the conditions of the rental agreement, specifically with regards to issues such as whether the tenant is allowed pets and how many tenants may occupy the home. “Having a clear idea of what you will and will not allow in the rental property will provide more defined search criteria for finding the correct tenant for the home.”


For those who prefer to do it alone, RE/MAX of Southern Africa shares a few tips to help landlords select the right tenant.

Mention credit checks in the ad copy

When advertising your rental property, clearly stipulate that each tenant will be vetted and will need to go through credit checks before any rental agreement is concluded. This will have a significant impact on the number of potential tenants who decide to view the property, which can save time and ensure the most suitable fit.

Create a detailed application form

Ask that each potential tenant fills out a detailed application form. Request information such as their employment details and contactable references. Tenants can also be asked to provide supporting documents which would include a copy of their identity document, salary slips, and three months’ bank statements to verify employment and affordability.

Conduct a credit check

Documents can be easily forged, so it is important not to simply trust the documents the applicant has provided. Once the application form with the attached supporting documents have been received, proceed with a credit check (which can be done through a credit bureaux) and criminal record check (which can be done through the SAPS website) on the applicant and contact the references provided by the tenant to verify the application.

Draw up a comprehensive lease agreement

After a suitable tenant is selected, it is imperative that a comprehensive and legally-sound lease agreement is drawn up, which stipulates all necessary conditions in detail. The terms of the agreement must be agreed upon and signed by both parties.

“The process of securing a reliable tenant can be a laborious task, which is why many prefer to outsource the job to experienced rental professionals. Not only will this save landlords time, but it will also minimise their risk, as reputable rental agents are better equipped to properly vet tenants. That is why I would always advise that before anyone advertises a rental home, it is always better to first chat to a local rental professional and find out how they might be able to assist,” Goslett concludes.

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