Rental agents must earn their keep

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

While there are those who choose to rent out their own properties thus avoiding paying commission to an agent, there are some sound reasons why a good rental agent should be used. In fact, using the right person to manage your rental property could end up saving you a great deal of money.

Firstly, renting a property can become quite an emotional issue. No one wants to rent out their home only to discover at a later date that the tenant has virtually wrecked the place. Unfortunately this happens more often than you might think and, unless you as landlord are willing and able to inspect the property on a fairly regular basis, can end up costing a great deal of money. Although it may be relatively easy to keep an eye on the property if you live nearby, this doesn’t apply to those who rent out properties in outlying areas, or for inland residents who own coastal properties.

Inspecting a rental property every six months or so is generally not a good idea. A lot can happen in that timeframe and owners who find themselves in this situation should strongly consider employing someone to keep a watchful eye on things.

More than just the rent

Good rental agents do far more than simply collect the rent. They often act as mediators between the landlord and tenant. They invariably work with a dedicated team of plumbers, electricians and handymen who not only get the job done, but do so professionally.

That said, collections are always going to be the most important part of the rental equation. It is often difficult, initially at least, for landlords to take a firm stance against defaulters. While we aren’t accusing every tenant who pays late of being some sort of scam artist, there are those who seemingly make it their life’s work to take every landlord they come into contact with for a ride. This is serious in any landlord’s book, but the fact that the law tends to favour the tenant means the situation can end up being a nightmare that could cost the landlord thousands.

The good and the bad

Of course there are good rental agents, mediocre rental agents and outright bad rental agents. Because of this it is vital for a landlord to conduct a little research before appointing someone to do the job. The first thing that needs to be determined is whether the agent is in possession of a valid Fidelity Fund certificate. It is highly advisable to avoid those who do not have this important document. By law an estate agent who sells or rents out property has to have a Fidelity Fund certificate and it is illegal to practice without one.

Managing rental properties is a specialised field and while many rental agents do sell homes now and again, most focus their attention on the homes they lease out. For this reason it is recommended that landlords deal with an agency that has a dedicated rental division.

Word of mouth is still the best form of advertising and anyone who is considering using a rental agent should ask around for recommendations. Your property is a major asset and every care should be taken to ensure that people aren’t simply doing their jobs, but are doing them to the best of their ability.

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