Make sure you have a signed photo record of your property when your tenant moves in

Private Property South Africa
Rawson Property Group

Advice to landlords has in the last few years been particularly prolific and has definitely contributed to the growing interest in property as an investment – and this, according to Bill Rawson, Chairman of the Rawson Property Group, is a welcome step forward.

Rawson added that one crucial point is all too often overlooked: the absolute necessity of obtaining a photographic record of the condition of the flat when the tenant moved in.

“Much good advice has been given to landlords,” said Rawson. “Among the factors often stressed are that this type of investment should be seen as long-term rather than short-term, the tenant’s credit, employment and previous records have to be thoroughly checked, and one has to be careful and select an up-and-coming area. Then, too, there has been good advice on calculating the ‘extra’ costs of property ownership and on being absolutely meticulous about maintenance. I have also seen some excellent articles on the importance of hanging onto a good tenant, but, so far I have seen only one article stressing how essential it is to have a signed record of the condition of the flat when the tenant moves in.”

Ordinary wear and tear expenses, said Rawson, are definitely not for the tenant’s account (although landlords have sometimes tried to lump them with them) but damages are.

“The cost of replacing or repairing a stained or burnt carpet, broken tiles, windows, shelves, doors or lights can be deducted from the tenant’s deposit if it can be shown that they were not in that condition when he or she moved in.”

Written statements, said Rawson, are often vague and difficult to interpret and can give the tenant the chance to duck out of his obligations. By contrast, a photo record is irrefutable.

Rawson added that to get a really hassle-free tenant experience, it is in most cases wise to appoint a good agent. However, if the landlord does decide to go at it alone, the one point he should observe is to see that the lease is checked out by an experienced estate agent so that it does not have loopholes in it, which have enabled so many tenants to avoid their obligations.

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