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Role and responsibilities of rental agents

If a property is bought for the purpose of letting it – maybe as a subsidy to an income or as a future retirement plan – it is important to ensure that the asset is taken care of in the best possible way.

This would be done by placing the best-suited tenant in the unit as well as maintaining the property regularly, says Sunell Afrika, rentals manager for SAProperty.com.

“There are many aspects of renting out property that DIY landlords might not have anticipated and the work involved in ensuring the rental process runs smoothly is sometimes underestimated by many laypersons,” she says.

“The vetting of tenants can be time consuming and so can maintaining the property. A rental agent will make sure the right tenant is chosen as well as check on the landlord’s property frequently. Any work that needs to be carried out can then be arranged by the agent and all the landlord needs to do is approve of certain expenditure.”

The rental agent’s level of involvement can be determined by the landlord, according to the mandate signed. The landlord can choose whether he wants the rental agent to handle everything – the tenant vetting, rental collection, inspections, maintenance checks and managing of contractors when things need to be done. The landlord can also choose only to have the tenant placed and rent collected each month by the agent, then take care of the rest himself.

What is important here, she says, is that everyone knows what the mandate says in terms of services and the tenant should know who to contact if something breaks or goes wrong.

Finding a suitable tenant for the property will include vetting the references and credit profile of the applicants. While he is working on the landlord’s behalf, agents should give the tenants all information relating to the property that the tenants might need. If there are certain rules of the complex, for instance, or if there is a particular aspect of the property they should know about, such as a lack of parking or crime in the area then the rental agent should disclose this to the prospective tenants.

When landlords are in the process of choosing an agent to manage their property they must ask whether the agent has a current fidelity fund certificate issued by the Estate Agency Affairs Board, as all agents dealing with property in South Africa need to have this in order to operate legally, says Afrika.

“Landlords should also check whether the agent has access to all the necessary systems such as credit bureau information, a property management system, the necessary training and should ask how many years’ experience the agent has.

“This is a large investment being handed over to someone to manage, and the choice of rental agent must be done with care,” says Afrika.


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