Advice and Opinion

How to be the winning tenant

With soaring demand and an often limited supply, the rental property market is a tough one, where landlords are king.

“Today, the amount of people looking for a place to rent far outweighs the amount of available rentable space,” says Francois Venter, Director at Jawitz Properties. “This is why it is so important to stand out as a tenant.” The following factors should be kept in mind to make a great impression and stand you in good stead to land that lease.

Be realistic

One of the utmost priorities of a landlord is ensuring the rent comes in every month. Make sure you’re looking in the right price category for what you can afford. One way of going about this is to set a target, such as deciding on a percentage of your salary that can comfortably go towards your future rental payments. As a guideline, try not to exceed a third of your net income. “Be honest with yourself about which rentals you can realistically apply for,” Venter says.

Be presentable

Muster your most professional attitude, dress to impress and present yourself as the most respectable and respectful candidate the landlord or rental agency will meet. “Standing out in the way you conduct yourself will go a long way to making the right first impression.”

Be sorted

Make sure you have every single document imaginable readily available. Be prepared that the powers that be will want to know everything they can about you. “Everything from your current employer, past employers and your residential history (including current proof of residence) as well as reliable references from previous landlords or someone such as your employer,” he adds.

Be honest

If you’re a smoker, say so, but obviously explain you will be respectful of the smoking policy in place. If you have pets, be honest and never lie about your credit scores, as there will most likely be a credit check. Most agencies use services that’ll show exactly what you can and can’t afford, as well as any black marks against your name. “You should always do your utmost to keep your credit rating as clean as possible. You may be looking to rent again in the future, so it’s never wasted.”

Your rental rights

Once you’ve secured a property to rent, keep in mind that there are regulations that give you, as a tenant, some crucial rights in the rental transaction.

The Rental Housing Act for instance states that in order to rent a property, a written lease must be agreed to and signed by both the landlord and the tenant. “This lease will include all the essential information you’ll need, such as the exact amount you’ll pay in rent, other charges you’ll have to carry and how your rent will increase over a certain time period,” Venter concludes.