Making Rental Relationships Work

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Building and maintaining good relationships takes a great deal of commitment and hard work and it is no different in the world of property. Forging a good relationship between landlords and tenants is imperative if the relationship is to succeed and prove beneficial to both parties.

According to the comments posted at the end of various articles that appear on the Private Property website, most landlords refuse to take responsibility for what they own and most tenants are con artists. No surprises there… everyone needs a roof over their head and when things go wrong, it quickly becomes personal and the battle lines are drawn.

It seems of course simple to say to tenants, ‘if you don’t like it, leave’. However, given that it is extremely costly to move into a new rental property, it is often easier said than done and in many instances the situation deteriorates into open warfare. Unfortunately, very often there is no clear winner and both parties are left licking their wounds.

Although it may be more difficult to fix a relationship that has already broken down, there are ways to form a successful partnership, based on mutual trust and respect. Tenants who take good care of the property, have a history of timeous rent payments and who generally treat the property as their own are undoubtedly going to have an easier time of things if something goes wrong. Both parties need to understand however that nothing in life is certain and there may well be times when, due to unforeseen circumstances, rent payment is delayed.

No one is going to welcome the delay, but those who have built a solid relationship with their landlord may find that he is far more understanding of their situation. Tenants who frequently pay late or who have virtually wrecked the property and generally caused mayhem are however unlikely to garner much sympathy from their landlord, regardless of how trying the times.

No matter how close the relationship, tenants must remember that they can only play the sympathy card so many times. It’s worth remembering that your problems are just that - they belong to you and expecting a landlord to remain compassionate over an extended period of time is unrealistic.

On the other hand, a landlord who makes unreasonable demands, refuses to maintain the property to acceptable standards and who consistently takes a heavy-handed approach, may also find that he has trouble with each and every tenant.

Renting out a property is not a sure-fire path to riches and there are expenses that need to be covered every time the property comes up for lease. The time and energy it takes to find a tenant of good standing aside, landlords also need to factor in advertising costs, repainting the property and fixing any damage caused by the previous tenant, all of which generally eat into profits.

Keeping a tenant in the property for an extended period of time is far more lucrative for all concerned. Long term tenants often find that the longer they live in a home, the easier the relationship with the landlord becomes. The responsibilities may remain the same, but the rewards may well come in the form of lower or no rent increases.

It is therefore highly recommended that both landlords and tenants open the channels of communication and keep those channels open during the entire period of the lease. Landlord and tenant may not become best friends, but will enjoy a far more relaxed business relationship based on all the right principals – trust, honesty and respect.

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