5 Top Tips for Tenants
Often when renting a home or apartment tenants suffer unnecessarily due to poor planning or opting to work void of professional assistance from the start.
The capable guidance and invaluable knowledge of an experienced estate agent will enable you to ensure that a quality decision is made. Henry Ford during his lifetime, when accused by critics of basically being ignorant and not possessing the technical acumen required in his industry, silenced naysayers by giving credit to the highly competent and world-class team of experts that worked intimately alongside and under him. As market leaders in the residential property rental industry, we have once again drawn on our experience to compile this insightful piece for existing and new tenants.
Greg Harris, CEO of Chas Everitt Property Rentals (CEPR), highlighted the importance of making a sound decision when renting. “There are numerous social, environmental, legislative, personal and other factors to consider when choosing ones residence – whether it is for a year, two-years or even longer. It is a decision that affects one’s lifestyle and wellbeing, and subsequently it is one where the importance of value takes precedence over cost”, said Greg. Barry Davies, Franchising Director of Chas Everitt International Property Group added that, “It is not that cost or budget is not a reality – but it is unwise to look at it in isolation without affording due regard to the macro picture.”
Here are five great tips for prospective and current tenants:
#1 Establish and Maintain a Budget
Far too many tenants in South Africa fail to plan financially and soon find themselves exceeding their budget. The last thing you want is the stress of trying to raise the month’s rental payment at the last minute or having to ask your landlord for an extension on the date of payment. Furthermore, late payments incur interest or penalties as stipulated in the lease agreement and permitted by law. A property rentals specialist will be able to explain these clauses to you as well as ensure that penalties and other variables are compliant with the law and fair to both parties.
It is easy to draft a budget yourself; you can consult with a friend, download freeware applications and similar resources or for total piece of mind – engage an accounting professional for a once-off agreed fee. You will have to factor in your income as well as all your fixed and variable expenses including the rental costs, in order to calculate affordability.
#2 Landlord’s Permission for Improvements
Landlords seldom, if ever, permit improvements to the structure of the home. However, there are some other cases where consent can be granted depending on the nature or extent of specific improvements. For instance, if the tenant requires some redecorating, installation of fittings such as additional cupboards, satellite television, perhaps a burglar-proof gate and so on – then normally the landlord will consent.
While you may not be able to undo the installation once the lease expires, the landlord is not obligated to contribute towards the cost of this expense, unless it is expressly covered in the lease agreement. This is another area where property experts add tremendous value, and they may typically negotiate for a complete installation at the cost of the landlord where it makes sense or request at least a 50% contribution.
#3 Create a Comprehensive Inventory List
The inventory of your new rental property will usually be included within your lease agreement. This is essentially a document containing a detailed inventory of everything that is included in or on the property that you will be renting. If you are working with a real estate rental specialist, he or she will walk you through the process and will facilitate an initial inspection to clearly establish not only what falls within the inventory list, but also the current condition of different parts of the property. You will be required to sign and initial each page acknowledging that you are aware of the responsibilities you have toward keeping these items safe and in acceptable condition.
#4 Moving Out
If your lease is coming to expiry or you have served notice to move out by a particular date, then you need to bear a few things in mind. Firstly, if you intend on moving out prior to the lease running its full duration, then you are still liable for the remainder of the rent. But - depending on the lease conditions there might be a concession where there is a certain penalty to the tenant instead of the entire remaining rental amount. This is a delicate area and your rental agent will be most helpful in advising you in this regard.
Secondly and most importantly the rental deposit cannot be set off against rental payments or associated costs such as utilities. The landlord is entitled to utilise the deposit towards outstanding monies or damages. The remaining amount, if any, must be paid back to the tenant and there are laws governing the aspect of rental deposits. Client Service Manager at CEPR, Paula Harding, emphasised that, “An experienced agent will be edified in this aspect and will keep abreast of statutory changes as well as its impact on tenants and landlords. Provided your payment obligations are fulfilled and the property is returned in the same general condition as when you commenced, you should not have a problem in retrieving your full deposit amount with applicable interest earned.”
#5 Check for Any Red Flags
“There are a number of aspects you need to pay attention to before signing your lease agreement. Spotting these red flags early can help you make a decision on whether or not you need to ask the landlord to attend to any issues before moving in”, said Julie Pillay, Manager of CEPR Long Term Letting division in Umhlanga. You can bring this to the attention of your agent, but an experienced agent will no doubt have noted or already attended to these issues by advising or taking appropriate steps:
- Be on the lookout for damp areas on walls, ceiling and possibly floors – it’s a problem that will only get worse over time and is fairly easy to spot.
- Make sure to thoroughly inspect all of the plumbing, as well as make sure that water heats up sufficiently.
- Make sure your cell phone receives signal whilst on your property.
Helping Tenants through Quality Service and Proven Expertise
For more useful advice and to find out about our latest residential rental property listings nationally – from freestanding homes, to residential estate properties, apartments and so on - contact the qualified team at Chas Everitt Property Rentals today. Our trained real estate professionals are always on hand to offer further assistance.
Author: Barry Davies