Complete Guide to the Property Renting Process in South Africa

Let us lead you through the renting process step-by-step to ensure you make informed decisions. Understanding the process will enable you to make sensible choices and provide clarity and peace of mind.



Preparation


When you enter the market to rent a property, it’s advisable to consider a few aspects:


Affordability


Keep in mind that you’ll have to pay a deposit to secure the rental in your name, which is usually one- or two months’ rent in advance.


Also, double-check your budget to ensure you can afford the rental comfortably.


Credit record


Before a landlord grants you a lease, they will check your credit score. This is a three-digit number that indicates whether you are a responsible spender.


  • It’s always advisable to attend property viewings with the following items on hand:

  • A copy of your ID

  • Credit score and proof of credit report

  • A copy of your last salary slip

  • At least three months’ bank statement for the most recent months

  • Sufficient funds in the bank to pay the deposit and first month’s rent

Signing the Agreement


Always make sure your lease agreement contains the following:


  • Names and physical addresses of the lessor (the landlord or his agency) and yourself

  • A description of the property

  • The monthly rental fee and how it will escalate – this should be reasonable

  • Occurrence of rental payment, i.e. the date and whether monthly or fortnightly

  • The deposit amount

  • Period of the lease

  • Notice period to terminate the contract from either side

  • The landlord’s obligations

  • All costs payable by you, the tenant

  • A list of all defects or issues with the property

  • When renting a furnished place, you’ll also need a list of furnishings

  • All house rules, where applicable.

Dealing With the Deposit

  • The deposit is usually a full month’s rent. However, more landlords are asking for at least two months in advance to safeguard them from damages or loss of income.

  • Your landlord must invest the deposit in an interest-bearing bank account. You must receive your deposit back at the end of the lease, including any interest earned. Still, keep in mind that any damage to the property will be deducted from the deposit.

  • The landlord may not withhold your deposit unless he can prove how he spent the money on repairs with legal receipts.

  • The landlord may not withhold your deposit for ‘fair wear and tear’ such as the ordinary wear of carpets or flooring or damage from bright sunlight.

  • Before vacating the premises, your landlord or agent must inspect the property in your presence. If there are no damages and thus, no deductions, you must receive your deposit back within seven days of said inspection.

Relationship Between Landlord and Tenant


The Rental Housing Tribunal exists to help settle any disputes such as:

  • Deposits

  • Non-payment of rental

  • Unfair rentals

  • Condition, use and maintenance of the property

  • Utility services

  • Lease agreement disputes (verbal and written)

  • The rights and duties of landlords and tenants

  • Damage to property

  • Eviction

  • House rules

  • Intimidation

  • Issuing of receipts maintenance

Termination of the Lease Agreement


The notice period is stipulated in the agreement. However, you must give your landlord 20 days’ notice if you want to cancel the agreement before it expires.


Upon cancelling a lease before its specified end date, you could be held liable for breach of contract unless you reach a mutual agreement with the landlord. It’s advisable to ensure that your agreement has a cancellation clause. The landlord is within their right to expect payment towards the costs of finding a replacement tenant, such as advertising costs and agent commissions. Naturally, you’ll still be responsible for any damages to the property.


Should your landlord decide to sell the property, the ”rental goes ahead of purchase” applies. This means that the landlord may sell the property, but their buyer will also take over the lease agreement. In these cases, the tenant must be reasonable regarding for sale signs being erected in front of the property and agree to let prospective buyers view the property at mutually agreed convenient times.