The requirements for renting a residential property have become more and more onerous on prospective tenants as landlords have become increasingly circumspect as to who they let their property out to. Chris Renecle, MD of Renprop, believes that this is due to economic circumstances in recent years which have resulted in many tenants defaulting, part-paying or paying their rent late which has had a negative effect on landlords and therefore prompted them to take measures to protect their investment.
He points to TPN’s Residential Rental Monitor 2017 Q1 report, which shows that mounting financial pressure on households is reflected in the fact that close on 7% of tenants didn’t pay their rent while nearly 11% paid only part of the monthly rental obligation and a further 17% paid their rent late.
“There have also been a number of cases of rental scams and dubious tenants in recent years, which has also encouraged landlords and rental estate agencies to use more stringent vetting criteria when selecting tenants,” says Renecle.
So what do tenants need to do to ensure they are rental ready? Renecle says that before looking for a home to rent, prospective tenants need to ensure they are ready to provide the necessary documentation, and if they are approved, ready to sign a lease agreement in order to secure a good unit in today’s competitive rental market. “The more information and security tenants are able to provide that assists with the vetting process, the easier it is to work through their rental application and the more likely it is – provided everything checks out – that they will be approved.”
He points out three main areas that prospective tenants should have covered:
During the vetting process, agents will carefully check the personal details and profile of a prospective tenant. Therefore, tenants should try, as far as possible, to ensure that they are able to obtain good references from previous landlords regarding their behaviour, payment performance and the way in which they looked after the unit. “These will stand them in good stead when applying for a rental unit in the future,” says Renecle.
Prospective tenants need to ensure that they are in good financial standing. Comprehensive credit checks are undertaken to ensure that a prospective tenant is likely to meet the full monthly rent payment. “Tenants who have a sound financial history and can prove that they have a good track record of meeting their financial commitments have a higher chance of being approved,” Renecle notes.
From a financial point of view, it’s not only about track record, it’s also about affordability. Therefore tenants need to ensure they can actually afford the rental unit they are applying for and that their financial state reflects this. Renecle says that the amount of disposable income tenants have access to is important here, so tenants need to try and pay down as much debt as possible in order to free up some of their income.
When submitting a tenant application form, additional documentation requirements include a certified copy of a South African ID book or passport, three to six month’s bank statements as well as a recent payslip. “These documents should be handy when prospective tenants view properties so that they are able to complete an application immediately should they see something they like,” advises Renecle.
He says that having easy access to a deposit is an added advantage that can help tenants secure a unit quickly.