Using a good rental agent is one of the most frequently recommended ways to ensure the ongoing health and growth of a rental asset – particularly in today’s challenging property market. However, not all rental agents provide the same level and quality of service, so how does one go about finding the right rental partner?
Jacqui Savage, National Rentals Manager for the Rawson Property Group, shares four, easy-to-check attributes when looking for a good rental agent.
Credentials and Ongoing training
Every rental agent in South Africa is legally required to have an annually updated Fidelity Fund Certificate and be registered with the Estate Agency Affairs Board. South African rental regulations are known to be complex and according to Savage, having a rental agent who stays up to date on the latest legal and procedural developments through ongoing training is the best way for landlords to protect their interests and stay on the right side of the law.
“Ongoing training is a great indication of a rental agency that is dedicated to staying on top of its game,” she says. “It’s also a good way to spot an agent who is willing to go the extra mile to make sure your rental asset performs.”
They have an active presence in your neighbourhood
Checking out other rental properties in your area is always a good way to start gauging your local market, but Savage says it also helps highlight the rental agents who are most active in your area. “A big part of being a successful rental agent is understanding the various market micro-climates within a neighbourhood,” she says. “These can vary significantly by street and property type and make a real difference to rental potential. An agent with an active presence in your neighbourhood is far more likely to be in tune with these dynamics and able to place and retain tenants more successfully than those without.”
They have a good reputation
Being active in an area may be a good sign, but it’s no guarantee that an agent is keeping their landlords 100% happy. For this reason, Savage also recommends getting word-of-mouth referrals or references from other local landlords whenever possible.
“It’s always a good idea to talk to someone who has dealt with a particular agent or agency before to get a first-hand report of what they’re like to work with,” says Savage. “Independent word-of-mouth referrals are first prize, but if you don’t know any other landlords to chat to, a good agent should be able to put you in touch with plenty of happy past and present clients.”
They have stringent standards for background checks on tenants
It’s a sad fact that levels of defaulting tenants are on the rise as the economy puts increasing pressure on the South African pocket. As such, Savage says rigorous background checks are an absolutely vital service from any good rental agent – preferably paired with security-conscious viewing processes and a pool of pre-vetted tenants.
“No-one can predict with absolute certainty that a tenant will not default on a lease,” she says, “but the more comprehensive the background check, the less likely this is to happen. If you’re interviewing multiple agents or agencies, comparing their vetting process is a great differentiator.
“It’s also a good idea to ask how your property will be protected during the viewing process,” she continues. “Good agencies tend to pre-vet tenants to minimise the risk of both opportunistic crime and time-wastage.”