As the demand for rental properties continues to outstrip the current inventory available, it has become increasingly more difficult for tenants to find the right property, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
“The demand for rental homes is unprecedented high, while there is simply not enough properties to go around. Tenants are looking for the best place for the best value, but currently, it seems that many rental agencies are unable to assist because of the lack of inventory out there. If a rental property is within reasonable price range, there is often a waiting list of potential tenants eager to get into the property. For tenants that have missed out or lost a place because another applicant was accepted, the process can be frustrating - especially if time is a factor. However, there are ways that tenants can improve their chances of finding their ideal rental property,” says Goslett.
Here are some basic tips and tactics to help tenants get the property they want. These tips are especially helpful for good tenants with excellent credit and track record.
Things to avoid
There is little point responding to an online ad that has been viewed hundreds of times. Rental properties that are perceived to be good value will be snapped up instantly. “Listings that appear after page 10 or those older than a week, will probably already be taken, especially rentals under R10 000 per month. “Check property search portals on a daily basis to ensure you are responding to ads as quickly as possible,” Goslett advises.
Given the volume of competing tenants in the market, asking an agent to add you to a list or take your number will not suffice. Rather get the email address of a reputable agent who is active in the area and email them with the intention of gaining some rapport. Don't be complacent and leave it to the last minute, it's harder to secure the right place than you think.
Responding to online ads
To be noticed, it is crucial to respond to online ads efficiently. Here are a few pointers on how to respond.
• Be brief and ask for an appointment to see the property as soon as possible.
• Do not ask if the property is still available – this wastes time, and the property will be gone before you get the benefit of a reply.
• Briefly, outline who you are, note the number of occupants, pets and why you are moving.
• State that you have a clean credit history and have all documents, proofs and deposit ready.
• Leave the questions about what is included until you are face to face with the agent or landlord.
• Shortlist as many potential places to view as possible to improve your chances of securing one.
• Landlords and agents seek quality tenants, and you will need to ensure you have all the necessary documents to show you are a quality and exemplary tenant.
• Be prepared to be asked for the contact details of references
Be prepared to give the following to the agent or landlord
Having all the necessary documents in order will speed up the process and show the landlord that you are serious about the rental. Have the following in order before responding to an ad:
• An updated credit report should be kept so that it can be offered to the owner or the agent. They may do their own, but at least you will know your credit history and score.
• Most agencies and savvy private landlords will have an application form. If possible, get this document before the viewing and complete it before you arrive.
• Other documents to remember are copies of ID documents, proof of income or a letter from your employer or if you are self-employed have three to six months of bank statements.
• Remember rental agents and landlords seek applicants who earn roughly three times the rental amount as a gross combined income.
• A letter from your past landlord or rental agent is always helpful or at least have their contact details handy. Agents/landlords want to know your conduct and payment behaviour at previous properties you have rented.
• If you have never rented or if you previously owned your property, try to get a good reference from a responsible authority figure, school bursar, minister etc.
• If you have anything that negatively affects the application, rather be honest and open about it and state what you have done to improve the situation. Being honest about it shows integrity.
“To make a good impression with a landlord, be sure to be on time for the appointment. If possible, also try and build some rapport with the landlord so that they will remember you. Have all the necessary supporting documentation on hand when you arrive and ask if there is a formal application to follow. If they can provide a receipt, ask if you can pay the lease fee or deposit immediately,” says Goslett. “During the process, it is vital not to lose hope and give up. While it may take some time, If you apply the above tips and keep at it you will eventually find the ideal rental property,” he concludes.