The Rental Process in Easy Steps

You may be a first-time tenant, a young professional moving closer to work or even downsizing. Regardless of the reason why you are renting, there is a process that will follow for each tenant. Below we have set that process out for you in easy-to-follow and understand steps to help you navigate rentals easily.

The property rental industry is fast-paced and brutal. In a nutshell, know what you want, know when you see it and grab it immediately by being prepared.

The rental process

It may seem daunting, but with clear steps you can easily navigate this process and settle into your perfect rental home in no time.

Here are the steps you will take toward homely bliss:

View and choose: We already have an article on house-hunting in the rental market linked. In short:

·         Know in which area you want to live.

·         What can you afford? Remember to consider rent and utilities.

·         How big should it be? How much space do you need?

·         Make a checklist of what your requirements are for your new home.

·         Inspect the property well when viewing it.

·         Take photos so you can compare the properties at home.

·         Have realistic expectations.

Qualify: What do you qualify for? Would you go to the shop with R10 to buy a R15 bread? Why would you even start looking for a place to rent without knowing what you can afford? Generally you should set aside one third of your net income for rent. Also remember that a good credit record is vital! Do you have a store account or contract for a cell phone? Be sure to pay it on time every month so as not to adversely affect your credit score. Most credit bureaus allow one free credit report per year. Check your credit report and rectify any negative items.

Knowing your credit score and affordability is only the first step in qualifying for a rental. There is also an application process in order to succeed.

·         The paperwork

o   What physical papers do you require for the application?

§  Copy of your ID or passport (have your work permit available if applicable). Sometimes these documents will need to be certified.

§  Proof of income in the form of your latest payslip, or if you are newly employed and don’t have a payslip yet, your employment contract.

§  Last three months’ bank statements.

o   What information is required?

§  Your and your spouse or partner’s personal details.

§  If you are currently renting you may need to supply your current landlord’s details.

§  Your and your spouse or partner’s current employment details.

§  Alternative contact’s details.

·         The process

o   Credit report. This report verifies:

§  Your ID, contact details and last listed address.

§  A record of your payment behaviour over the last four years.

§  Judgements against your name.

§  Court payment orders against you.

§  Trace alerts.

o   TPN report. This is done to identify any high-risk tenants. A full tenant lease history check will be done for:

§  Contact details .

§  Any defaults or notices from a previous lease.

o   Affordability check.

o   Confirmation of employment and income.

o   Reference from existing landlord if applicable.

·         Timeframe

o   The application can be completed as quickly as 24 hours or take up to 48 hours.

Deposit: Have your deposit ready before you even start looking for a place. Deposits can reasonably vary between one and two months’ rent and are payable upfront. 2LetNow requests a non-refundable R2 500 holding deposit that forms part of the total deposit. If you should cause any damage to the property during your lease, the landlord will deduct the money from your deposit to pay for these repairs. The balance of the deposit may then be returned to you within 14 business days of the repairs being completed.

It is important to note that if you as tenant do not attend the outgoing inspection, legally the landlord or agent has up to 21 days before they have to return your deposit. When the lease agreement comes to an end and there are no problems with the property then your deposit should be returned to you within 14 business days of the end of the lease.

Signing the lease: A gentleman’s agreement won’t help you if the situation gets sticky. A lease agreement is a legally binding contract between the tenant and landlord setting out the rules for various aspects from rent to maintenance obligations.

·         Get a written lease agreement and request a copy of the contract.

·         Make sure the lease indicates all the terms and conditions.

·         Rights and responsibilities of the tenant and landlord. Both parties want the property in top condition, therefor there must be guidelines on how to keep it as such.

o   The landlord’s responsibilities are:

§  Ensure the property is in a reasonable condition and that they are handing over a safe and habitable property to the tenant.

§  Provide the tenant with a written lease agreement.

§  Provide the tenant with a receipt or statement for each payment.

§  If maintenance is required, these repairs need to be done within 14 days unless otherwise agreed with the tenant.

§  Allow fair wear and tear.

§  Unless the damage is caused (deliberately or due to negligence) by the tenant, the maintenance and repair of structural fixtures and fittings like:

·         Roof leaks

·         Replacing geysers

·         Plumbing

·         Electrical problems.

o   The tenant is required to keep the property clean and safe. Tenants are responsible for:

§  Paying their rent on time.

§  Using the rental property only for the purpose agreed upon in the lease agreement.

§  Maintenance of the interior of the property.

§  Lightbulbs

§  Taps

§  Locks

§  Handles

§  Broken windows

§  Garden maintenance

·         The lease should also include:

o   Identification of the property to be rented.

o   Identify the parties involved (tenant and landlord).

o   Rental amount.

o   Additional charges.

o   Payment dates and frequency.

o   Note of the deposit that you have to pay.

o   Manner of payment.

o   Lease period.

o   Notice period for termination of the lease.

o   List of defects pertaining to the property.

o   In apartment blocks and estates a list of the complex rules.

Inspect: It is important for both the tenant and the landlord or agent to do an entry inspection. It is also a legal requirement. Through this you can establish, record and agree upon the condition of the property in order to ensure that you are not held responsible for any damage that may have occurred before you moved in. Routine inspections should follow during the course of your lease.

If you do not attend the incoming or outgoing inspection you can’t contest repair fees deducted from your deposit. Similarly, if the landlord or agent doesn’t attend these inspections they cannot deduct repair expenses from your deposit. Both parties must do a thorough inspection together, noting all defects on a checklist, taking photographic evidence and signing this document.

Paying rent: Rent is paid in advance to your landlord or agent. This is a legal requirement, made binding by signing the lease. The rental housing act has processes in place for landlords if the tenant does not pay on time each month. You cannot withhold rent when you are unhappy with the landlord. This is seen as a breach of contract.

Ending your lease

·         Ending your lease is subject to 20 business days’ written notice. Once you have indicated your intention to end the lease agreement to your agent or landlord, they will notify you of the timelines and requirements of moving out (like handing back all original keys), do an exit inspection and arrange to pay back your deposit IF the property is still in the same condition as it was upon moving in and all rent is paid to date.

·         The lease is a legally binding contract, protecting you as tenant from situations like a property being sold during your agreement period as well as protecting the landlord from a tenant wanting to break a lease agreement by ending a fixed-term contract early. There is no requirement for a landlord to release a tenant from a contract early. If the lease agreement doesn’t allow for early cancellation, be prepared to pay penalties along with any outstanding rent and utilities. This is not deductible from your deposit.

2LetNow has highly skilled staff at all our developments who can assist you with the entire rental process. For more information on the ins and outs of rental life, be sure to follow us on Facebook to receive regular blog updates.