Rentals on Cape homes now moving upwards

Rentals on Cape homes are now moving upwards and returns of 7% or 8% per annum are now quite common, says Lanice Steward, MD of the estate agency Anne Porter Knight Frank.

But, she adds, many landlords still take too little care to ensure that their property is in tip-top condition before they put it on the market. This, she says, results in their not getting the rents they should.

“At Anne Porter Knight Frank we try to persuade clients going the rental route to look at their homes as if they had never seen them before and then to spend a few thousand rand on eliminating any drawbacks or factors that detract from the home’s appeal.”

Special attention, says Steward, should be paid to painted surfaces (“most people repaint too little and too late”), carpets (“regular replacement is regrettably necessary”), plumbing (“geysers, in particular, do not last for ever and can cause huge problems when they go wrong”) and electrics (“we often find that a second circuit is necessary or that the existing current needs rewiring”).

Steward says that, while homes in good condition attract good tenants, the reverse is also true: homes in a shoddy condition will appeal only to a lower grade of tenant.

“Unless the landlord is absolutely confident that the tenant has a real sense of responsibility about maintenance, it pays to insert sums in the lease for garden and pool maintenance by an independent service. It also pays to install an automatic irrigation system in the garden, the water bill being paid by the tenant.”

It is human nature, says Steward, not to care as much about something you rent as you would if you owned it yourself. The landlord has, therefore, to protect himself and if he does not have experience in tenant management he should employ an agent who knows how to check a client’s past record, both as a tenant and as a debt payer, and how to exert pressure ‘in the right way’ if this becomes necessary.

“Do-it-yourself landlords all too often find that they have ended up with a tenant who not only falls dismally behind on his rent payments but also, through neglect, seriously devalues the property.”

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