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Security considerations when renting a property

Security is a major determining factor for most property buyers in South Africa, which is why homes within security estates or those that have state-of-the-art security systems generally sell for a higher premium.
 
What about tenants? A large portion of the population prefers to rent rather than own a property due to financial and other reasons. Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that just because a person is renting, it doesn’t mean that their safety or the security aspects of a property should be any less important.
 
“When deciding which rental property is the best option, a tenant should consider the security aspects and the possibility of any security issues that may occur,” advises Goslett. “Although rental properties could be more cost effective and less responsibility then owning a home, they can be difficult to keep secure. It is vital that the tenant finds out what security features have been installed in the property to make it a safer place to live before signing the lease agreement.”

According to Goslett, the first question that a tenant should ask themselves is what their security needs are. It is important to remember that while sectional title complexes are regarded as a safer option, they are not untouched by criminal activity. He adds that security goes beyond the extent of the property itself. “In the case where the rental property is situated within a sectional title complex, the tenant should enquire about the security features of the complex as a whole, such as access control, security guards on site or patrols. Many complexes may also have surveillance of some kind, which will vastly increase the security of the development,” says Goslett, who adds that it is also advisable to ask whether access codes or door locks are changed once tenants move from the rental property.

He notes that while landlords have a responsibility to ensure that the property is in a good condition and is well-maintained with reasonable security precautions such as door and window locks, landlords are not required to provide any additional security. “However,” says Goslett, “if a tenant has their heart set on staying in the property, they could get prior written permission from the landlord for them to install security features at their own cost. In some cases the landlord may decide to pay a portion or all of the costs because it will increase the value of the property as well as possible future rental income. Once a tenant is aware of what security aspects are in place and what is required, they will be limited by their agreement with the landlord as to what they can install. This is why it is so important to discuss the matter and come to an understanding with the landlord before any agreement is signed.”
 
Another aspect to be aware of is the lighting surrounding the property. Dark areas make it easier for intruders to approach and either enter or assess a building. Outdoor floodlights can help to eliminate the risk and motion-sensor models are a value-for-money, effective option. Outdoors is not the only place that requires good lighting. According to Goslett, a lighting timer for inside the home can create the illusion of someone being home even when the tenant is traveling.

Tenants should also check whether there are fire extinguishers and where the fire escape stairs and exits are.  Another important aspect to consider is the parking area and access from rental property to where the car is parked. They should check to see if the area is well-lit, and if there is a garage to park the car in.

“Once all aspects have been checked and the tenant is satisfied that their security questions have been sufficiently addressed, they can confidently decide on which rental property they feel most secure in. Feeling safe is an important part of feeling at home,” Goslett concludes.


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