The South African rental market is going through a bit of a tough time right now, with both rental growth and tenant payment performance experiencing a multi-year decline. According to experts, this can make it more difficult than usual to secure reliable, trustworthy, and financially responsible tenants to avoid potential rental defaults and loss of income.
“Properly vetting tenants is always a vital part of any rental property’s success, but it’s even more important when the market is slow and demand is limited,” says Jacqui Savage, National Rentals Manager for the Rawson Property Group. “It can be tempting to let the vetting process slide in order to fill a vacant property sooner, but I can’t stress enough how dangerous this is for the security of your investment. It’s far, far more difficult and costly to get rid of an unreliable or non-paying tenant than it is to place a reliable one – particularly if you have professional help.”
While every rental agency tends to have their own method of vetting tenants, Savage says all Rawson Property Group Rental Partners are held to exceptionally stringent standards.
“We have a very clear and comprehensive process that all our rental partners follow when sourcing quality tenants for their landlords,” she says. “Unlike most other agencies, we also perform these background checks before taking a prospective tenant to view a property. That way, we know from the start that they can afford the property they’re looking at, are not a security risk during the viewing, and aren’t wasting the landlord or current tenant’s time.”
Tenants also stand to benefit from this arrangement by avoiding unnecessary viewings of properties they are unlikely to qualify for.
“It’s definitely a time-saver,” says Savage, “since we can guide tenants towards properties that not only meet their personal preferences, but also fit their financial and lifestyle profiles. There’s no point in looking at rentals that aren’t going to allow your toddler or your dogs, for example, so let’s clear up those details from the very beginning and find you the right property off the bat.”
But what do Rawson Rentals’ background checks actually involve?
“First of all, we ask prospective tenants to fill out a Declaration of Expenses document as well as an application form to kick off the vetting process,” says Savage. “That application form grants consent for us to perform various credit checks that give us a comprehensive overview of the applicant’s finances and reliability profile.”
Compiling that overview includes collecting the following details:
- A credit and identity check through the Credit Bureau
- Confirmation of income and employment via payslips and a call to the employer
- Confirmation of monthly expenses via 3-months of verified bank statements
- Personal references from previous landlords (if applicable) by phone call
“It’s only when tenants find a rental that they’re interested in that we pass those application and vetting documents on to the landlord. Once we have the green light from the landlord – which happens more often than not, thanks to our careful vetting – we draw up the lease documentation and move forward from there.”
“For privacy reasons, we let prospective tenants keep their full credit report if they’re not interested in pursuing any of the rental options that we take them to see,” she says.
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