Renting through a letting agent VS a private landlord

Private Property South Africa
Property Power

There are many benefits for tenants using both letting agents and private landlords. Find out which is best for you.

Benefits of using letting agents

  • Letting agents are regulated. Most letting agents will be members of at least one regulated body, requiring them to adhere to a specific code of conduct. Failure, of the agent, to do so could result in penalties as well as financial compensation to the tenant (It will be in your best interest to avoid letting through an unregistered agent).

  • Letting agents are familiar with the law and have an understanding of the legal procedures, unlike your average private landlord. This means that your letting agent will ensure that all legal requirements are met by both parties (landlord and tenant).

  • Your letting agent will be easily contactable. This is their full-time job, so your agent has an office and multiple staff members making them much easier to get in touch with. They will also be available, during working hours, to help iron out any problems which may arise with the property. A private landlord, on the other hand, will most likely be tied up by their own job and may not be as easily contactable in the case of an emergency.

  • Letting agents will do the hard work for you. If the landlord’s approval is needed for repair work, alterations or improvements; the responsibility will fall on the letting agent to handle the situation. This will relieve you, the tenant, of having to track down an elusive landlord and risk any unnecessary confrontations.

Benefits of a private landlord

  • A private landlord can often offer a cheaper rental rate in comparison to renting the same property through an agent as there is no agent’s fee which needs to be paid. A letting agent will usually charge an administration fee and sometimes may charge a fee for things like credit/reference checks. A private landlord may also offer no deposit or be open to negotiating flexible deposit terms.

  • A private landlord may be open to flexible tenancy lengths. Generally, a letting agent will offer a minimum lease for 6 or 12 months. Most private landlords also prefer a longer tenancy length; however they may be more accommodating, offering a shorter lease term than 6 months. When taking a shorter lease, you may be required to pay a slightly higher rental rate due to the extra work for the landlord.

  • When it comes to credit checks, having no credit history might cause you to run into difficulties when trying to rent a property through an agent. Renting through a private landlord may eliminate this problem as a private landlord is less likely to run a credit check because they do not always have the means to do so. A private landlord’s main concern is whether your income will be enough to cover rental payments and whether you will make a reliable potential tenant. For a young person, as a first-time tenant, renting through a private landlord may help you gain your independence without having to first acquire a credit history.

  • In some cases, a private landlord may offer more “personalised” care to their tenants. It is in the landlord’s best interest to retain a consistent, reliable tenant. If you have developed a good relationship with your landlord then there is a good chance that your landlord will bend over backwards to make your stay as comfortable as possible because you are helping to secure their property investment. Direct contact with your landlord may also help influence his decisions, especially when it comes to issues like owning pets.

This article originally appeared in Property Power 11th Edition Magazine. To order your copy at the discounted price of R120, click here.

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