18 Things You Need To Know Before Renting A House

admin May 20, 2018 No Comments

18 Things You Need To Know Before Renting A House



1.Research the Area.

research the area you want to rent a house

Think about the area before you move in. Do you want a quiet area or do you not mind the noise of traffic. If you like a quiet area I suggest checking that there is no pubs or popular restaurants near you. Check all the surrounding before you sign up that everything looks satisfactory to you.

If you need to have a hospital close by for your health then there is no way you are going to have a quiet surrounding, there will always be traffic noise.

It is up to the tenant to check the dwelling and the surrounding area before signing the property agreement.


2. Discuss Pets Early.


Talk about your pets early in the negotiations with the landlord whether you are allowed pets. If he agrees then ask him what size of dog you may keep and how many dogs and other animals you may keep.

The reason for asking this is that some owners only allow small dogs or a certain amount of animals on the property. If the estate agent does not allow pets on the property, then this place is not for you.

Having a pet and not disclosing this to the landlord before moving in can lead to losing the property to rent. The next thing is that if you move into the property and have not found out about if you can keep pets, and this is stipulated in the tenancy agreement that prohibits pets. You are likely to get evicted from the property.

This is all because you did not even bother to read the signed agreement where it states, no pets allowed.


3. Check out the White Goods.

check out the white goods


It is a good idea to ask what white goods come with the house. Check the white goods (fridge, stove, eye level oven, microwave, dishwasher, washing machine, air conditioner etc. ) and report any defects on the outside and inside the appliances, also test them.

If the white goods are on the tenant’s agreement, all defects and the test report should be shared with the landlord or the estate agency.

Make sure you ask who is responsible your the breakdown repairs of the white goods and whether it will be replaced if not repairable. These discussions need to be stipulated in the agreement in writing.

Air conditioners need to be serviced, ask who will maintain these services on this appliance.

“The responsibility will be determined purely by evidence of what has been agreed upon between the two parties. This is where you need to make sure everything is in writing on the agreement.


4. Don’t forget to check the Water Pressure.

don't forget to check the water pressure


When you first inspect the property, run all taps and showers. Check for leaks and water pressure problems.

This will give you the leverage to negotiate to fix the problem before moving in and signing the agreement.

These problem fixes can be small or huge, if you do not check for water leaks or water pressure problems before signing the agreement, they may not be able to resolve the problem later.

Make sure this is all stipulated in the agreement.


5. Find out if your Contract has A Release Clause.

find out if your contract has a release clause


There are two things to look out for here:

A break clause means a “fixed-term tenancy can be ended at 12 months” let me explain.

However, it’s important to check out the specific wording of the clause to see the conditions: “For example, that there are no existing rent arrears when the tenant wants to activate the clause.”

A release clause runs along similar lines, but might involve the tenant “paying a fee to release themselves from the agreement at any time” so check for this in the agreement to be able to negotiate the terms on the agreement. It also usually means that the tenant has to find someone to replace them, as well as paying the fee.

This is very important as people find jobs or been relocated to new area or city in the company in which they have to move to be able to start work.


6. Ask the Landlord if they will Repaint the Walls Before you Move in.

ask the landlord if they will repaint the walls before you move in


If there are tasks you want the landlord to do before you move in (for example, varnishing the front door or steam-cleaning the carpets, painting the walls, damp walls), then it’s a good idea to have them completed before you sign anything.

The tenant can ask the landlord to do this [i.e. clean and repaint the house before you move in], but they can’t compel a landlord to do anything before a tenancy agreement is set up.”

The most important thing is to make sure everything is done before you sign the tenancy agreement and before you have made any payments.

It is not uncommon for tenants to assert that promises of this kind have been broken, and because tenants usually can’t supply evidence of the agreement, they are still liable for their tenancy and rent.”

So if you want something done, ask for it, agree upon it, and complete it before you move in or you transfer any funds.


7. Conduct a Thorough Inventory.


When going through the property’s inventory, make sure you point out any defects and take a note of the state of the items (by taking photos of broken curtain railings, for example).

Give a copy of the amended inventory to the landlord, keeping a copy for yourself.

If your landlord has not prepared an inventory, you can prepare your own, and then ask your landlord to sign it. If not, make sure you have taken photographs, and ask an independent witness to sign the document.

This is crucial as you may pick up problems when you decide to move out.


8. Find our how much Money will need to be Paid in Advance.

find out how much money will need to be paid in advance


There is no “normal” amount of rent to pay in advance. Generally, landlords will ask for one month’s rent in advance, although it can be more than one month’s rent.

When it comes to the deposit, the amount is also at the landlord’s discretion. Usually, landlords ask for the equivalent to one month’s rent as a deposit, but some ask for more (or less) than that; six weeks’ rent is also common. Some landlords do not ask for a deposit to be paid at all.

This can always be negotiated, the only thing is that when coming to the agreement it must be stated in writing.


10. Challange any Terms and Conditions you’re not happy with.

challenge any terms and conditions you're not happy with


Sometimes you can challenge terms and conditions you’re not happy with, but this must be done before you sign the tenancy agreement.

This can also apply to the landlord’s repair obligations (fixing a broken cupboard door, for example). Many repair obligations are legal requirements, but the landlord might agree to additional repairs under the tenancy agreement. Check these carefully as you may be held liable at the end of your contract.

If the landlord will not change the disputed term or condition, the tenant should not enter into the tenancy.


11. Find out where your Deposit will be Held.

find out where your deposit will be held


For the duration of the tenancy, the landlord is legally required to keep your deposit in a bank account and rental agents must place your deposit in a Trust account.

The Rental Housing Act No. 50 of 1999 and the subsequent Rental Housing Amendment of 2014 state that the deposit must be paid into an interest basing account and that the interest accrued must be included in the deposit refund. Within 14 to 21 days of the end of the lease, the landlord must return the security deposit, with interest.

This must also be clearly stated in the rental agreement.


13. Understand how the Rent Increases work.

understand how rent increases work


In terms of South Africa property law there are no limits to the amount by which a landlord can increase the rent on a property, but in practice, most leases contain a clause stipulating that the annual increase will be a specified percentage (usually 10%) at the expiry of a twelve month period.

Two facts should be borne in mind when an above inflationary increase in the rental is called for.

The first is that these are usually warranted if they are accompanied by significant improvements to the property and it is good policy, to upgrade the premises every two to three years.

The second fact he adds is that a responsible and regularly paying tenant should be nurtured and kept, even if this means on occasion reducing the amounts that are charged for a time.

A good rental agent will balance these two factors to the landlord’s advantage.


16. Understand what an Estate Agency is allowed to charge you for.

understand what an estate agent is allowed to charge you for


Many tenants are starting to query the amounts they are being forced to pay to rental agents when signing a new lease. In one particular instance, the tenant had to fork out R975 for a lease fee as well as R150 for a credit check. These fees seem to be on the high side, particularly when you consider that tenants also have to put down a deposit for the utilities on the property. Some agencies also ask for key deposits.

While there is no law as to how much a rental agency or landlord can charge for a lease agreement, section 5(3)(p) of the Rental Housing Act stipulates “any costs in relation to contract of lease shall only be payable by the tenant upon proof of factual expenditure by the landlord.”

The question that needs to be asked is why there is such a discrepancy between the various agencies and could tenants be taking the higher fees into consideration before deciding to rent a home?

This is a good time to negotiate these fees or rather find another rental property.


17. Ask for everything in Writing.


There is no legal requirement for an inventory or survey, or even for a written tenancy agreement, so it is important tenants request these things if they are not provided.

The landlord is legally required to provide a gas safety certificate, and the landlord (or agent) has to provide in writing the name, address, and contact details of the landlord on request.

This is vital as you will not be covered by insurance if something goes wrong when a fire brakes out.


18. And Read the Tenancy Agreement Thoroughly.


  • The names of the landlord and tenant(s) and the address of the property which is being let.
  • The date the tenancy begins.
  • Details of whether other people are allowed the use of all or part of the property, and, if so, which parts.
  • The duration of the tenancy: that is, whether it expires on a certain date, in which case it is a fixed term tenancy, or whether it has no fixed term, in which case it is a periodic tenancy.
  • The amount of rent payable, how often and when it should be paid, and when it can be increased. The agreement may also state what the payment includes.
  • Whether the landlord will provide any services.
  • The length of notice the landlord and the tenant need to give if the tenancy is to be ended within the fixed term (break clause).
  • If the tenant does not know the name of the landlord, they can make a written request for the full name and address of the landlord to the person who receives the rent. (The agent must supply the tenant with this information in writing within 21 days.)


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