Tenant’s checklist for 2015

For those who will be renting a home in the year ahead, there are certain factors that need to be taken into account. 

This is according to Sheree Peach, Residential Rentals Manager at Renprop. “During the past year there has been an exceptionally high demand for rental units in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, to the point where demand has outstripped supply. In this kind of an environment where a number of tenants are competing for one rental property, it pays to be well prepared,” she says.

Peach gives prospective tenants a checklist to help make the process of finding a home to rent easier, as well as to ensure that they have a good chance of securing the rental property they want.

The factors to take into account when looking to rent a property are no different than they would be for a prospective buyer, says Peach.

It’s still all about location: Prospective tenants need to carefully consider the suburbs they are interested in renting in to determine the accessibility to their place of work and schools, as well as other amenities and facilities that they regularly make use of such as shops, gyms etc. Tenants should make a list of all suburbs that fit their criteria in this regard.

Price range: Price is a very important factor to consider when renting a home. “In the past year many tenants have been applying for units that they don’t qualify for financially,” she says. “While an upmarket suburb might be ideal in terms of location, if the rental prices in the area don’t meet the budget, it should not make it onto the list.” Peach says that in terms of affordability, prospective tenants should work on roughly 30% of their net monthly income as a maximum amount they will be able to afford on a rental unit.

Accommodation requirements: Once a few suburbs have been selected that meet both location and price points, prospective tenants should make a list of their accommodation requirements. “Again, this list should be price-checked with the units available for rent in the areas that are being considered,” she says.

Consumers today have access to a range of resources on the internet and through other property listing resources such as local newspapers, brochures and the like that will assist them in narrowing down the list of possibilities.

Once a number of rental property options have been found, there are a few more points to ponder when viewing the properties with a rental agent:

Rules about pets: “Many complexes these days are not pet friendly, so prospective tenants who have pets need to check the rules of the complexes they are interested in carefully before committing to a lease,” says Peach.

Count the costs: When considering renting out a home, prospective tenants need to ensure that they have factored in all the costs. There is a deposit to be paid, which is usually one month’s rental, plus administration fees, a water and electricity deposit as well as moving costs – which are often not factored into the budget. In addition, there are also often cleaning costs for the unit to be professionally cleaned before the tenant moves in.

“When viewing a property, prospective tenants can ask the rental agent for a full quote to include all the deposit, cleaning and administration costs to ensure they know exactly how much they will need to pay in advance,” says Peach.

Prospective tenants should also check exactly what amounts are included in the monthly rental amount and which will be billed separately. Peach points out that the rental amount is usually a flat fee for the rental of the unit, while consumables such as water, electricity, sewage and security are billed on a usage basis over and above the monthly rental amount.

Be prepared: Prospective tenants should be prepared to sign a lease as soon as possible once they have found their ideal rental home. For this, three month’s bank statements, their ID book and a recent payslip will be required. Peach points out that being prepared to act immediately will assist in securing a rental home in such a competitive market, therefore prospective tenants should have this documentation with them when viewing the units on their shortlist.

Learn about the liabilities: Prospective tenants must find out what their liabilities are in terms of cleaning and maintenance before signing a lease agreement, says Peach. “Anything that is agreed to between the tenant and the rental agent with whom they sign the lease must be reduced to writing and included in the lease agreement in order to protect both parties,” she says. Tenants will be responsible for keeping the unit in good repair which would include replacing light bulbs, fuses and the like.

“Knowing what to expect, how much to budget for and being prepared to ask the right questions when looking for a rental home will make the process a lot smoother and hassle free for all parties involved in the transaction,” Peach concludes.

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