Renting? This is what your landlord wishes you knew

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Tenants often feel that landlords are unreasonable, especially when it comes to the payment of rent. The reality is that most landlords simply cannot afford to carry a non-paying tenant.

Rent may take a chunk out your salary, but this doesn’t mean that the landlord is making a huge profit at your expense.

Most people who invest in a buy-to-let property do not do so because they want to get rich quickly. This is because, as a rule, property has never been regarded as a quick fix and investors generally invest in real estate for the long term.

South Africa has some pretty strict rules when it comes to leasing out property. Tenants are protected by these rules and although numerous landlords believe that the person who rents a property has far more rights than the person who owns it, tenants still tend to think that landlords go all out to rip them off.

Read more: Tenant's rights and obligations

There are of course unscrupulous landlords who despite increasing the rent on an annual basis, refuse to maintain the property. However, it can be said with a certain amount of confidence that there are tenants who expect far too much from their landlords and complain and demand on a continual basis.

Generally speaking, all a landlord wants from his tenant is for the property to be maintained to an acceptable standard and for the rent to be paid on a monthly basis. Unfortunately, there are those who think that the landlord is responsible for everything that goes wrong in the home including (and this is a genuine case) replacing old light bulbs.

Read more: Tenant vs landlord - who fixes what?

Rent will always take a huge chunk out of anyone's salary, however this does not mean that the landlord is raking in the cash and making a huge profit at the tenant's expense. It costs money to own a home - apart from on-going maintenance issues, bonds have to be serviced and rates have to be paid. Despite all of this, it is most often cheaper to rent than to own a home of your own - at least in the short term.

Renting out property is not a personal exercise, it's business and the average landlord cannot afford to carry a defaulting tenant. They have bonds and rates to pay and neither the banks nor the municipalities are interested in why their accounts haven't been paid - they simply want their money.

A landlord may well be compassionate about the fact that a job has been lost or that a tenant has been ill - this does not detract from the fact that he needs the monthly rental on time, every time. It may sound harsh, but landlords should never have to resort to evicting a tenant. Those who can't pay, should simply move out and find a more affordable place to live. Unfortunately this doesn't always happen mainly because the tenant believes that the landlord owes him something and he therefore has every right to stay in the property until he gets back on his feet.

Everyone needs a roof over their heads and paying rent should be the first thing that tenants concentrate on by paying at the beginning of the month. Think about it, it's pretty pointless having a budget for food if you haven't got anywhere to cook it. Likewise, looking great in the latest fashions may make you feel good, but it's a bit of a waste of time if you don't have cupboards in which to store the clothes.

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