Many tenants have been in the dark, and this is not only because of load shedding.
Tenants are seldom experts on the subject of leases and are consequently uncertain about things like their rights, why they have to submit three months’ bank statements with a lease application and what to do to ensure that a deposit will be refunded after a lease expires.
Advice to help clear up some of the most important questions that tenants have:
1. What do landlords look for when they select a tenant?
They screen a prospective tenant’s affordability, willingness to pay their rent and whether the person has any judgements against him or her by doing a background check before approving a lease.
This is all done to find someone who is able to pay and will likely not pay late.
Affordability or ability is determined by looking at the tenant’s salary slip, three months’ bank statements and retrieving a bank code if it is a cheque account.
As a rule of thumb, a tenant’s income should be at least three times more than the rental. Once we have determined whether the tenant can afford the property, we must determine the willingness to pay.
For this, we check how many accounts the tenant has opened and, more importantly, whether they are paid on time. It is easy to establish whether a tenant has formed the habit of paying late, making partial payments or not paying at all when we study their open accounts, be it clothing or cell phone accounts.”
2. Can a tenant make changes to the landlord’s property?
Once your lease has been approved and you have moved into the property, you are not allowed to make any structural additions or alterations without written consent from the owner.
If the owner does give consent, it is important for the tenant to remember that he or she is not entitled to compensation for convenient changes and fixtures when the lease expires.
The tenant may also not remove these alterations or fixtures from the premises. The tenant is, however, entitled to reimbursement for necessary improvements.
I suggest tenants ask agents to propose structural changes they have in mind to the owner prior to moving in.
3. How can tenants be sure to get their deposits back?
- Look after the property as if it were your own.
- Hand back the property in the same condition it was given to you. We determine the initial condition of the property with a thorough inspection of the premises before the lease commences. We recommend that the tenant and owner both take pictures, and even videos, and to have a condition list with notes stipulating the condition of the property. Both parties must sign the initial and final report.
- Fair wear and tear, however, is allowed on a property, and the tenant should not be penalised for this. When there is wear and tear to something that doesn’t usually deteriorate, this is not considered wear and tear, but rather the damage. Examples of things that will experience wear are carpets, paint, door handles, cupboards, closets, and so forth.