Advice and Opinion

Seeff: What Landlords look for when selecting tenants

People who fill out applications when applying for accommodation are often surprised when these applications are turned down. It would help for potential tenants to know in advance what landlords and rental agencies are looking for when selecting tenants.

PG van der Linde, the Rentals Manager for Seeff Pretoria East, says the two most important things that any Landlord desires from a tenant are for the tenant to pay on time and to look after the property as if it were their own.

“It is important to note that rental properties are investments to Landlords and that they need to limit the risk of loss and make a return. Losses to a landlord include the non-payment of rental and any damages caused to a property”.

In order to limit the risk of non-payers and damages the landlord will appoint a reputable agency to market the property. Agents in the Seeff Pretoria East office subscribe to the statement from T. Harv Eker where he says “How you do anything is how you do everything” and that is why checking the background of potential tenants is so important”.

This is done by looking at a few months’ bank statements and getting approval from the tenant’s bank by means of a bank code. As a rule of thumb a tenant’s gross income must be slightly higher than three times the rent.

“The tenant’s cash flow must also not be hampered by the deposit and first month’s rent to the point where the tenant is consistently under financial pressure. If the tenant passes these affordability prerequisites the agent will move towards the tenant’s willingness to pay rental which in my opinion is the most important factor”, says van der Linde.

“A big bank balance does not necessarily imply that a tenant will pay on time or at all for that matter. We establish the tenant’s willingness to pay by looking at the tenant’s payment habits like any previous defaults and judgements. We can see how a tenant’s rental was paid in the past and how many retail accounts the tenant has. We can also see the tenant’s arrears balance for each retail account and with each creditor. It is therefore very important for a tenant to pay the rental on time and in full to prevent a bad payment habit from forming on his or her credit background”.

Van der Linde continues that tenants must always look after a rental property as if it belonged to them and the property should be returned in the state in which it was first received, excluding fair wear and tear. A tenant that damages a property can also have the damage caused listed as a default on their credit background by the Landlord.

Van der Linde concludes if the tenant qualifies for both affordability and willingness to pay he/she will generally be accepted by the Landlord.

“It is extremely important to keep a spotless credit background if you want to be able to enter lease agreements. The agent must be able to determine both the tenant’s ability and willingness to pay. It is also extremely important for a Landlord to use a reputable agency who will follow a proper vetting process”.