I can’t pay my rent – what do I do now?

Most South Africans are fairly adept at stretching a pay cheque when necessary, thanks to our unpredictable economy, high unemployment rate, and skyrocketing living expenses. Of course, even the most frugal of households can only make their money go so far, so what happens when disaster strikes and your income takes an unexpected dip, leaving you with empty pockets when it’s time to pay rent?

“There’s no doubt that South African tenants are feeling the pinch at the moment,” says Jacqui Savage, National Rentals Business Development Manager at the Rawson Property Group. “If you find yourself struggling to pay rent, you’re definitely not alone. In fact, only 67.27% of renters this year have been able to pay on time and in full – we’ve had the third-largest decline ever recorded in Tenants in Good Standing according to TPN’s latest Residential Rental Monitor.”

Just because the situation isn’t unusual, however, doesn’t mean that you can safely ignore it. In fact, denial could be your worst enemy if you hope to get through your financial troubles, unscathed.

“Not being able to pay rent is an incredibly stressful position to be in,” says Savage, “particularly if it’s because of something like a retrenchment or unexpected illness in the family. The last thing most people want to do under these circumstances is share the details of their struggle with their landlord or rental agent, but keeping silent is extremely counterproductive if you’re hoping to preserve a good landlord/tenant relationship.”

“Many landlords rely on rental income to cover a portion – or all – of their bond costs,” she continues. “If rent stops coming in, those repayments might become unaffordable for them, and they could face losing their property as a result. This is obviously not ideal for either the landlord or the tenant, which is why it’s in everyone’s best interests to work together in the event of a financial hiccup.”

While it might be counterintuitive to admit financial distress to a landlord who relies on your rental income to support their property, Savage reveals that honesty is as the old cliche says, the best policy.

“In almost all cases, assuming you have a previously good payment history, it’s a safer and wiser choice for your landlord to find a way to let you to stay,” says Savage, pointing out that new tenants can be a far riskier prospect than helping an old, reliable tenant over a rough patch. “By having an open and honest discussion, you have the opportunity to reach a compromise that benefits both of you.”

When it comes to the specifics of that compromise, the options vary depending on the nature and seriousness of the problem.

It is essential that the tenant and landlord are both on the same page from the very beginning. As soon as you realise you might have trouble meeting your rental obligations, make the call to your landlord or rental agent. That way everyone is prepared and can take the necessary steps to minimise the damage, while finding the quickest and easiest route back to a healthy financial relationship.”

  Comment on this Article

  Please login to post comments

Post to my facebook wall
Characters remaining

    Latest Property News
    • 17 Nov 2017
      FWJK has announced the launch of its latest residential brand, the Lil’ Apple, which will be launched simultaneously in two developments in Cape Town and Umhlanga totaling 600 apartments. The Lil’ Apple is set to be a brand of FWJK’s New York style apartments which will be rolled out nationally.
    • 17 Nov 2017
      It’s been a tumultuous year on many fronts, with socio-political uncertainty setting the tone for much of South Africa’s economic activity yet despite this and seemingly counter-intuitively, the residential property market has held up well.
    • 17 Nov 2017
      The EAAB (the Estate Agency Affairs Board) recently claimed that around 50,000 illegal estate agents could currently be operating illegally.
    • 16 Nov 2017
      Penthouses are synonymous with New York – characterised by high-rise living that is decidedly luxurious and spacious. While exclusivity comes at a price, you can still create a “penthouse” look and feel in your existing apartment or even the upstairs bedroom of a double storey house with some clever design changes and styling touches.
    • 16 Nov 2017
      The area has long been popular with kite surfers and, with escalating property prices in Cape Town itself, is increasingly in demand with home owners who work in town, but are looking to invest in more affordable properties.
    • 16 Nov 2017
      Cape Town’s popularity as a world-class tourist destination has resulted in a spike in the number of homes available for holiday lets and fuelled investor demand for sectional title units with short term rental potential.
    • 15 Nov 2017
      Sappi, one of South Africa’s oldest global companies and a leading global supplier of sustainable woodfibre products, has moved its global and regional headquarters to a new site on the corner of Oxford and 14th Avenue in Rosebank.
    • 15 Nov 2017
      There’s an old saying in real estate that you should seek to make a profit when you buy, not only when you sell – and a large part of succeeding at that endeavour is buying a home in an area with desirable features that will enhance the resale value of your property.
    Subscribe to the MyProperty Newsletter

    Last Name  
    Email Address  
    Email Frequency
    Share this Page

    For Sale Property
    Rental Property
    More Options
    Connect with us