Impressions are all-important

Private Property South Africa
Anna-Marie Smith

When newcomers sign on the dotted line, their vetted credit behaviour signals a sense of goodwill towards their fellow tenants. Making a positive impression and feeling accepted within a new community is as important to tenants as it is to landlords.

Like new members joining a local sports club, good tenants have a vested interest in associating with like-minded people. When community members and landlords become dissatisfied, their financial and practical behaviour soon becomes public knowledge. Good reason then, for tenants to protect their future interests with good referrals from landlords.

Rating agencies say, however, that some of the best tenants are applicants who signed their first lease agreements without a credit history. Model tenants show good habits such as accumulating cash savings while living within, rather than beyond, their means. Their potential as aspirant first-time homeowners – after becoming tenants in good standing with at least one landlord – is soon rewarded by successful mortgage applications from banks.

Look for like-minded communities

Good tenants are known to seek the company of those with a preference for harmonious surroundings. Personal experience of a first tenancy illustrated the warm welcome extended by a cosmopolitan apartment community in Mouille Point. As fellow residents, we valued a priceless lifestyle in an old, yet well positioned apartment block, overlooking the now-famous Green Point Stadium and the seaside promenade. The good rental habits of fellow tenants, and some aspiring homeowners, were rewarded by uninterrupted leases and favourable landlord relations.

Monthly rentals had to be paid by debit orders, with annual rental increases announced in writing, three months in advance. Those who reported faults immediately saw swift repairs, and scheduled property inspections facilitated routine and annual maintenance programmes. As tenants, we realised that landlords too value their status as property owners, within a close knit rental community.

Good financial habits of applicants wishing to become tenants in good standing, with unblemished credit records, are scrutinised by credit rating agencies. Agents say consumers who manage their cash flow by controlling household debt, are better equipped to afford high utility costs and ever rising food inflation, over and above monthly rental payments.

Pin down the best reference from your landlord:

  • Make sure you pay on time – or consult your landlord at the earliest opportunity

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Make positive contributions within your tenant environment

  • Communicate with neighbours and landlords on a regular basis

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Participate in improvement projects – this enhances positive behavioural activities, such as noise control, parking, visitors, and so on

  • Avoid disputes before they happen – discuss matters directly with fellow tenants before approaching the landlord

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Keep written records of all agreements including dates and notes of verbal discussions

Arrange face to face meetings in neutral territory – to avoid tensions rising out of control

Although not all tenants share the good fortune of having amenable landlords and vice versa, good tenancy can be the product of rental communities whose values and lifestyles coincide.

These relationships however, remain within the confines of the law while rental agreements are honoured by both tenant and landlord.

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