How to get the landlord’s attention

With home loans having become more difficult to obtain and afford, thanks to the National Credit Act and higher interest rates, more and more consumers are seeking to rent property.

But there is a growing shortage of homes to let, so prospective tenants need to put their best foot forward, says Dr Piet Botha, chairman of the Nationlink estate agency group.

“When faced with a pile of applications, a landlord or managing agent will naturally try to choose a tenant that comes across as a trustworthy long term prospect, and you should bear this in mind when preparing a tenant application, ensuring that it is neat and professional,” he says.

“Include as many details as possible so that the landlord or agent will be able to make a swift decision. You should include your employment particulars, how long you resided in your previous home, copies of your payslip for proof of income and marriage certificate if applicable, a photo for identification as well as good references that indicate your reliability.”

Botha says that the first port of call for a landlord is often a credit check on the applicant and suggests that potential renters also obtain a recent credit record report to attach to their application.

“And remember above all to be honest when applying for tenancy because if the landlord or his agency does do any checks, they will no doubt immediately strike you off the list of potential tenants if something you have said does not add up.”

“On the other hand, says Botha, regardless of whether renting is a permanent or temporary living situation, prospective tenants should scrutinize the lease agreement just as carefully as if it were a home loan application. “A lease should protect the tenant’s rights and the landlord’s.”

The terms and conditions generally specified, he says, include the term of lease, the rental amount and expected annual increase, as well as restrictions on the number of guests, pets, running a business from home and even making structural and cosmetic changes to the home.

“But disputes between landlords and tenants are most often a result of undefined terms and conditions, such as exactly what the rental deposit will be utilised for, incorrect termination of your lease agreement or unexpected interest charged on late payments. You should speak your mind before putting pen to paper if there is anything you are unsure of or would like spelled out more fully.”

Botha also says that once you have moved into your rental home, you should prepare a snag list of problems and give it to the landlord or managing agent. If you fail to do this within a certain timeframe, the faults could become your responsibility when you move out and the cost of repairs may be deducted from your deposit.

“Then finally, when the tenant and landlord interact, they should ensure that all conversations and agreements are confirmed in writing. This will make things much easier when one or other party decides to terminate the lease.”

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