Three tricky sit­u­a­tions land­lords can avoid

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

WHETHER you are a wellestab­lished land­lord or are still think­ing of get­ting in to the game, there are some pit­falls that might trip you up.

Natalie Muller, re­gional head of rentals at Jawitz Prop­er­ties Western Cape, of­fers these tips be­low:

By now most peo­ple have heard of the pop­u­lar pri­vate let­ting site, Airbnb, in­clud­ing ten­ants. Hol­i­days at the end of year are just around the cor­ner, mak­ing now a tempt­ing time for ten­ants to con­sider sub­let­ting ei­ther a room in your prop­erty, or your en­tire home with­out your knowl­edge.

This could be a lu­cra­tive op­por­tu­nity for ten­ants to sup­ple­ment what they pay in rent. But, with­out your per­mis­sion. this is sim­ply not okay. If you live far from your prop­erty or rely on a friend to man­age it for you, short of keep­ing a con­stant eye on Airbnb list­ings, it can be dif­fi­cult to mon­i­tor.

A man­ag­ing agent should reg­u­larly check in with ten­ants, talk to them and should pick up if any­thing is amiss, such as sub­let­ting go­ing on with­out your per­mis­sion.

The Western Cape in par­tic­u­lar is a de­sir­able des­ti­na­tion for for­eign ten­ants, but how do you vet them to make sure you can ac­tu­ally rent to them safely?

Although there are for­eign­ers with per­ma­nent res­i­dency, or those on sab­bat­i­cal or study leave, of­ten 90 days is the term of a vis­i­tor visa, and it is not un­heard of that ten­ants can bend the truth to get into a rental prop­erty, only to fly away in breach of the lease.

It is ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial to check their cre­den­tials from their bank de­tails in their coun­try of ori­gin, to make sure they are cred­it­wor­thy. This how­ever, might not be enough. Man­ag­ing agents should help to prop­erly screen prospec­tive for­eign ten­ants and to search for them on so­cial me­dia, for ex­am­ple, to as­cer­tain their char­ac­ter.

Thor­ough screen­ing is vi­tal. This pro­tects you from los­ing out on rent and be­ing faced with try­ing to seek re­course with an ab­scond­ing ten­ant who has left the coun­try al­to­gether.

As land­lords can no longer put util­ity bills into the names of ten­ants, it is of­ten more cost ef­fec­tive to in­stall a pre­paid elec­tric­ity me­tre. How­ever, Muller says that if you don’t keep your other util­ity bills paid up to date, when a ten­ant puts in pre­paid elec­tric­ity, part of it can be de­ducted due to ar­rears on your ac­counts.

This of course is un­fair to the ten­ant and could re­sult in them at­tempt­ing to claim com­pen­sa­tion or with­hold­ing pay­ing rent un­til you ad­dress the prob­lem and set­tle your bills. Ten­ants may not with­hold rent at any time for any rea­son and do­ing so would af­fect their credit rat­ings.

It’s es­sen­tial for your own cred­it­wor­thi­ness to pay your util­ity bills. Man­ag­ing agents are the go be­tween, and a mid­dle man can be help­ful if there are sen­si­tive is­sues like this to deal with.

By keep­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion lines open, man­ag­ing agents can keep ten­ants and land­lords in­formed and make sure prob­lems are rea­son­ably re­solved or avoided al­to­gether.

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