Criminal syndicates are operating in sectional title complexes

Through its thorough checks on all tenant applications for rental properties that it manages, Renprop’s Residential Rentals Division has discovered that a number of criminal syndicates are operating in sectional title complexes throughout Johannesburg’s northern suburbs, for which they fraudulently apply for lease agreements.

Sheree Peach, Residential Rentals Manager at Renprop, says that this is just another reason why those with rental properties should make use of a rental management company. “Landlords who do not vet their tenants against stringent guidelines are putting their investment at risk,” she says. Peach points to the fact that generally the laws governing rental agreements offer far more protection to the tenants than landlords, which means that getting rid of an undesirable tenant such as these is exceptionally difficult, time consuming and expensive.

Peach notes that it is thanks to the stringent vetting guidelines and thorough checking processes that Renprop Residential Rentals follows that the fraudulent tactics used by these syndicates, which seem to be mostly involved in drugs or prostitution, have been brought to light.

Peach says that at first glance, all the documents in the rental application check out. “These criminals have been very clever in creating fraudulent documents, so much so that it really takes a close inspection to spot the discrepancies. It is only when one begins to analyse the documents like the bank statements and payslips to check if the numbers add up, that you find they don’t. We also always check the applicant’s place of employment, and often these references don’t add up and that also makes things begin to look suspicious and warrant further investigation.”

Through its checks on rental applicants, Renprop Residential Rentals has also established that these syndicates rent a number of units in different complexes over the same time period, which is also unusual.

Peach points out that while these tenants compromise the social values of the complexes in which they operate, they are generally very good payers with clear credit records and would pay cash upfront for the rental of the unit if they could, meaning that at face value they would be taken as good tenants.

“This situation once again goes to show the importance of using a reputable and knowledgeable agent. In order to protect the landlords that they represent, Renprop will be implementing further measures to ensure the applicants for tenancy check out. This includes that the person signs the lease agreement in person at the Renprop offices as opposed to over email/via fax. Photo identification of all applicants may soon become a prerequisite for lease agreements.”

Renprop has reported all these criminal incidents and fraudulent documentation to the police and advises any landlords who suspect this may be the case with their rental property to do the same. “While these tenants generally avoid confrontation, don’t want trouble and would prefer to fly under the radar, it is best to report it to the police and not to confront the tenants with accusations directly.”

Peach concludes by saying: “A rental management company’s access to systems and intellectual property in terms of how to undertake careful and meticulous checks on all the details of a prospective tenant is invaluable to landlords as they have a better chance of uncovering problems like these syndicates.”

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