How to avoid de­fault­ing ten­ants

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A re­cent re­port has shown that this year 9% of SA ten­ants in res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties are not pay­ing rents at all and 28% are pay­ing late. “The fig­ures are not nearly so bad in port­fo­lios which em­ploy rep­utable agents,” says Tony Clarke, MD of Raw­son Prop­er­ties, “but they do show that ad­di­tional care in the se­lec­tion of ten­ants is now es­sen­tial”.

This process, he adds, is so cru­cial to the land­lord’s fu­ture wel­fare that he should be in­volved in the check­ing process. The first step should be to look at the ten­ant’s rental track record. This en­tails con­tact­ing his pre­vi­ous land­lords and agents — and this check should go back sev­eral years. “If, for any rea­son, the ten­ant tries to limit the names and con­tact de­tails of pre­vi­ous land­lords, that in it­self is a cause for sus­pi­cion,” says Clarke.

A check should also be made on the prospec­tive ten­ant’s credit his­tory. An­other check which should al­ways be car­ried out is with the ten­ant’s em­ployer — the ap­pli­cant may well be on the point of los­ing his job or un­der sur­veil­lance. In tough eco­nomic times it can be fool­ish to in­sist on the pre­scribed rental in­creases. “Ten­ants cho­sen in a hurry tend to be bad ten­ants, be pa­tient and sac­ri­fice two or three months rent. This is in­fin­itely prefer­able to the ex­pen­sive, long drawn-out process of get­ting a ten­ant evicted.”

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