Homeowners in South Africa are under pressure following a series of interest rate hikes. To relieve financial pressure, many homeowners have been obliged to sell or let their homes and move into rental properties.
Property professionals reported rising demand for rental properties in the PayProp Rental Index for the first quarter of 2023, with budget-sensitive consumers opting for fixed rental payments in preference to fluctuating bond repayments. Even many would-be home buyers are electing to stay on in rentals, which is also increasing demand.
PayProp chief executive, Michelle Dickens, says South African consumers are still feeling the after-effects of the Covid years.
“Homeowners and tenants are still trying to recover from the substantial economic impact of the lockdown period. This is compounded by present economic challenges like escalating food, fuel and electricity prices and continued load-shedding. Many are delaying buying homes or even returning to the rental market, boosting demand for rental properties.”
Although tenants are plentiful, she says that finding the right tenant is now more important than ever.
“Landlords are also facing higher bond repayments, so margins for error are far smaller. To stay profitable, they need to find reliable tenants who will pay the increased rents needed to cover their rising costs.
“The challenge is for landlords to make sure their properties stand out from the rest, to attract quality tenants.”
Dickens suggests some simple enhancements to gain maximum value from an investment property:
Energy security - With the current pressure on the electricity grid, being able to keep the lights on is a substantial property differentiator. Installing a full solar panel and inverter system makes sense at the top end of the market. But a stand-alone battery backup to keep the lights, wi-fi and television operational during load-shedding would be a boost and won’t cost the earth.
Gas – During load shedding, electrical appliances like microwaves, ovens and hobs don’t work – often when they are most needed. Installing a gas hob means tenants can still prepare food and boil water for tea and coffee while the lights are out.
Security - Small improvements in security measures add instant value, such as a CCTV camera that enables tenants to monitor movements on the property.
Smart geyser - A smart wi-fi-connected geyser timer will enable tenants to remotely switch their geyser on and off, optimising power usage and control of energy consumption.
Simplifying administration - With digital platforms like the PayProp Tenant portal, tenants can pay their rent online and access their invoices and statements, keeping them informed and in control of their payments.
Andrew Schaefer, managing director of property management company Trafalgar, says other ways to make tenants feel that they are getting great value for their rent include the following:
Good maintenance and prompt repairs. Landlords should ensure that the grounds and exterior of the property always look well-maintained and inviting and that the interior is clean, well-lit and visually appealing. Tenants also really appreciate quick and positive responses to requests for essential repairs.
Incorporating the cost of certain amenities in the rent - for example, high-speed internet, laundry facilities, secure parking and additional storage space, or even a certain amount of pre-paid electricity.
“Once your property has been improved, it’s equally important to screen your applicants carefully,” says Dickens.
“Systems like PayProp’s Tenant Assessment Report allow rental agents to check an applicant’s credit score and past rental payment behaviour, which makes it easier to be sure you get tenants who can and will pay their rent on time and in full.”
Following the above guidelines can assist landlords in securing the right tenants.
Writer: Sarah-Jane Meyer