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Communicating with your tenant

RE/MAX Living Rental Specialist, Grant Rea discusses the importance of an open communication channel between landlord and tenant

“Having been in the rental business for a number of years, I have experienced almost every type of tenant one could imagine from amenable and reasonable, to nightmarish and deplorable," says Grant Rea, Rental Specialist at RE/MAX Living. “One thing is clear, regardless of the nature of your lease agreement, clear and precise communication with your tenant is critical to the outcome of your tenancy arrangement.”

He notes that since communication with your tenant can ‘make or break’ a tenancy, it is vital that the landlord considers what aspects need to be highlighted to the tenant before the tenancy begins. Keep in mind that the motto of every landlord should be ‘fair, firm and flexible’.

“Merging under unreasonable initial demands by the tenant leans the entire lease towards one of excessive leniency and the tenant taking advantage of the landlord’s generosity with untimely payments and extra ‘uncalled for’ general demands,” says Rea.  “It is acceptable and expected for a landlord or agent to clearly outline expectations and guidelines of the tenancy arrangement. The success of tenancies is down to managing expectations.”

Over the years as a rental management business, RE/MAX Living has put together a supplementary document to the lease called the ‘Tenant Survival Guide’. The guide is a crystal clear concise summation of expectations and requirements of the tenant as outlined in the lease. The Tenant Survival Guide further highlights specific scenarios, from how to proceed in an emergency, such as a burst geyser, to what the rules and regulations are for re-decorating and hammering in of nails.

Don’t forget that as a responsible landlord there is an obligation to provide a written lease to the tenant (if requested by your tenant and soon to be law), as well as original invoices for utilities and payment receipts. Rea says that landlords should get into the habit of making sure all communication is in writing. “This type of good practice will see landlords fair well when promises and expectation are misaligned over time. The landlord is also legally protecting both themselves and their rental property if any disputes are needed to be resolved in court,” advises Rea.

Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, agrees, saying that reducing contractual agreements to written will ensure that any unnecessary confusion is put to rest even before the contract is entering into by the parties involved.

Rea notes that if the tenant breaches their terms of the lease agreement, the landlord should pay particular and careful attention to their communication regarding the precise breach of material terms of the lease. The landlord must then notify their tenant immediately of any breach incurred by them. Courts expect accurate written records of the breach and adequate notice communicated to tenants allowing them an opportunity to remedy any breach or infringement of the tenancy agreement. If this is not clearly recorded, courts may delay and even dismiss cases that have not strictly adhered to acceptable processes and communication.

“It is vital for landlords to invest some time in protecting both themselves and their investment with consistent clear communication in writing, to ensure that everyone is in agreement with the tenancy agreement and both the landlord and their tenants know what is expected of each other at all times,” Rea concludes.

For a free draft copy of a ‘Tenant Survival Guide’ please follow at www.facebook.com/propertybygrant


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