Rental demand at its peak in Cape Town

With summer in full swing and the beginning of a New Year, many who are looking for a new home have earmarked the City Bowl and Atlantic Seaboard of Cape Town as their desired location for 2014. The city and surrounds is popular to live in, as it eliminates a host of traveling woes for residents. This has resulted in a staggering demand for rental properties in the area, says Susan Watts, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Living.

According to Grant Rea, a Certified Rental Specialist at RE/MAX Living in the City, from the start of December all the way to the month of March his office has hundreds of potential tenants waiting for properties on a monthly basis. “Rental traffic during this time of year is extremely high and the only way to ensure that our clients are kept up-to-date with new listings is by utilising social media networks such as Facebook,” says Rea. “Demand is far outstripping supply and those with rental portfolios will be able to capitalise on the current situation - provided they adhere to a few golden rules.”

According to Rea, while there are a large number of tenants in the market, it is no time for landlords to be complacent. “With numerous tenants vying for the same property, landlords have the opportunity to be picky. Now, more than ever, their screening processes and criteria should be stringent to ensure that the best possible tenant is selected. It pays to be diligent in vetting all tenants as it can largely affect the return on investment for a rental property owner,” says Rea. “All applicants must fill out a well compiled application form, which stipulates all aspects of the rental agreement in detail. It is also important that the applicant provides the landlord with written permission for the landlord or rental agent to do a credit screening.”

Once the application form is received, Rea suggests at least a three-point screening process:

1. Check credit records with one or all credit bureaus; this is an essential step in the vetting process.
2. Contact all references such as previous landlords and/or agents to establish payment regularity and conduct.
3. Verify employment and income by contacting the tenant’s employer or requesting a bank statement.
Rea notes that he and his dedicated team often go one or two steps further by doing online social media screening as well. “Be weary of tenants who may avoid specific questions about previous tenancies or who are generally vague about aspects of the application form. If in doubt, keep showing the property. If the property is being managed by a rental agency, ensure that the agency covers the bases diligently and requests steeper deposits if there is any doubt. Larger deposits will generally offer the landlord more security,” he says.

Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that if landlords choose to utilise the services of a specialised rental agent, they are more likely to avoid any legal disputes with their tenants. He notes that the laws surrounding the rental process and how they affect the relationship between landlords and tenants have become far more intricate in recent times, and a specialised rental agent will be able to provide invaluable guidance.

“Too many private landlords approach me with complications in their tenancy,” says Rea. “This is due to many of their lease agreements falling foul of the law in that these agreements are not correctly drawn up in line with current legislation. When in doubt about a rental agreement, landlords should rather have an attorney or leasing expert draft it up.”

When it comes to the rental market, it takes hard work and dedication to ensure that all the parties get the most out of the transaction. “The services of a specialised rental agent can assist greatly in making the sometimes difficult process of owning and renting out a property much smoother,” concludes Rea.

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