Ad­vice: rental ad­vice

Be­fore you make the big move, know what you’re get­ting your­self into


SO YOU’RE set to leave home and find your own space. Ex­cit­ing times, but they can also be over­whelm­ing. Here’s what you need to know as you come face to face with le­gal doc­u­ments, de­posits, re­moval costs and a whole lot more.


If you’re new to an area, chat to peo­ple who live there. Ask about the pros and cons of the neigh­bour­hood. What are the fa­cil­i­ties – shops, restau­rants, nightlife, park­ing, pub­lic transport, parks?

Which area is in­ex­pen­sive and which is more costly? What’s se­cu­rity like? How long will your com­mute to work be?

You can also use Google – for ex­am­ple, type best ar­eas to live in Jo­han­nes­burg.


Now you have your sub­urb, where can you find a place to rent? Web­sites like prop­ list a wide range of op­tions and check out lo­cal list­ings by googling ren­tals in your city.

Es­tate agents of­ten have other prop­er­ties not listed on­line. But avoid any nasty sur­prises by check­ing if you have to pay a fee for their ser­vices.

Take a walk around the area – you might see some rental no­tices on prop­er­ties or on shop no­tice­boards. Not ev­ery­one wants to pay com­mis­sion with an agent or pay to post a rental ad.


So you think you’ve found the per­fect place, well here are a few things you should check out first. Util­i­ties – Is there power, wa­ter, waste re­moval, DStv? How much are these bills? Wa­ter – Check the pres­sure in the kitchen and shower. And check all the out­let drains prop­erly. Laun­dry – If there’s no wash­ing ma­chine are there com­mu­nal fa­cil­i­ties for this? Stor­age – What’s in­side and what other fa­cil­i­ties are avail­able for big items like bi­cy­cles? Ameni­ties – Is there se­cu­rity, a gym or a pool in the block? If so, do they come with ex­tra costs? Light – Is there enough nat­u­ral light? Are cur­tains or blinds in­cluded? Se­cu­rity – Are the win­dows and doors prop­erly fit­ted with locks? Is there an alarm? Is the en­trance safe? Dé­cor – Can you paint and hang things on the walls? Will you need to fix things up again be­fore you leave? Noise – Can you hear your neigh­bours mov­ing around? Are you on a busy street? Are there late-night bars nearby? Park­ing – Is it on the street, in the com­plex or in a se­cure cov­ered area? Is it in­cluded in the rent or are there ex­tra costs in­volved? Pets – Not all places al­low an­i­mals, and usu­ally there are lim­its to how many. Com­plex – Any rules you need to know like visi­tor re­stric­tions or quiet hours?


Don’t be in a rush to sign. Read it through care­fully first – make sure you clar­ify any­thing you’re not sure about. Check the fol­low­ing: How much de­posit will you have to pay and when will you get it back? It should be held in an in­ter­est-based ac­count, which should be in­cluded in the de­posit re­fund.

What’s your rent and how of­ten and by how much will it in­crease?

Are there ex­tra costs on top of your rent for things like elec­tric­ity, rates and wa­ter? Can you sub­lease to other peo­ple? Does the lease end on a cer­tain date or is it au­to­mat­i­cally re­newed?

What hap­pens if you move out be­fore the lease is over?

It’s pos­si­ble to ne­go­ti­ate be­fore you sign, so this is the time to re­quest any work be done in the place, like paint­ing the walls, or re­quest a park­ing bay. If the landlord agrees to what­ever you’re ask­ing for, make sure you get it in writ­ing. Even the rent can be ne­go­ti­ated – for ex­am­ple, if you take a longer lease you might be able to get a re­duc­tion in the monthly fee.


Be­fore you move in, take a good look around and note any dam­ages. Take pic­turess and make sure the landlord or agent takes note so you don’t end up hav­ing to pay for these when you leave.

It may sound like a lot of work but an­swer­ing these ques­tions will help to make your move a hap­pier ex­pe­ri­ence.

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