Trouble equals distance squared with property investment

Trying to manage a rental property when you live in another town – or another country – can easily turn into a nightmare, as many private landlords have already discovered.
“If you don’t live close to your investment property, it is very difficult to monitor if it is still in good condition or to get any maintenance work or repairs done properly. It is also much more complicated to deal with even normal tenant issues such as incoming or outgoing property inspections,” says Cape-Town based advertising executive and property investor Christan Boshoff.
“And that is why I regard the professional property managers at Trafalgar in Johannesburg as an essential part of my property investment ‘team’. Their service is very personalised and having them as my eyes and ears on site means that I always know what is actually going on with my properties in the inner-city, and that my risk as an investor is much lower.”
Durban-based businessman and property investor Juggie Pillay, who also owns properties in East London and Cape Town, concurs. “I believe that managing rental properties is in any case a job for a specialist, but that if those properties are in another city, the only way you can have peace of mind is to appoint a professional management company like Trafalgar that is active nationally and has people on the ground where you need them.
“Trafalgar enables me to focus on my business and leave the management of the properties up to local experts. them. I get regular reports, but they take care of the day-to-day issues and make sure that any work done on the properties is up to standard. In addition, because they are so hands-on, they always have another tenant ready to move in if someone leaves, and I don’t have to suffer a loss from having a vacant unit.”
 Andrew Schaefer, MD of Trafalgar Properties, agrees that there is “simply no substitute” for walking around a building or an individual property and noting any maintenance or repair work needed first-hand, so that it can be attended to promptly and cost-effectively.“It is also essential to brief contractors on site in order to get accurate quotes, to check their work in person, and to ensure that everything has been properly done before they are paid.”  
However, these are not the only reasons for long-distance landlords to appoint professional property managers, he says. “Having an on-the-spot, visible property manager really does discourage tenant delinquency such as late payment of rent or breaking the conduct rules of a sectional title scheme – and make it much easier and quicker to rectify the situation if anything like this does occur.
“What is more, a professional property management team will handle all the administration that goes with rental property ownership, including inspections and deposit returns, and ensuring that empty units are cleaned and in “show” condition before they are advertised to prospective tenants.
“But the number one reason to put your investment property in the hands of a professional management company such as Trafalgar is that it can and will screen the credit and tenancy records of prospective tenants extremely carefully - before they are allowed to occupy your property – and that this will significantly reduce your risk of loss due to rental defaults and lengthy eviction procedures.”

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