Vital questions to ask before renting a property in South Africa.
Renting a new home comes with many unknowns. It’s important to ask questions and get the answers before signing a lease.
These are some of the most important questions to ask an estate agent before renting a property in South Africa.
1. What is the lease term?
Find out how long the lease is upfront. Many leases are 12 months but some are only six or three months. Is there an option to renew the lease and what are the early cancellation policies?
2. How much is the deposit?
The deposit can be one, one-and-a-half or even two times the monthly rent paid upfront.
You may be required to pay an admin fee and the first month’s rent in advance. By law, your deposit must be kept in an interest-bearing account.
3. Are utilities included in the rent?
Find out if utilities are included in the rent or if they’re billed separately. The property owner can choose to bill a tenant for consumables such as water, electricity or sewerage, but not rates or levies.
4. Why are the current tenants leaving?
If possible, find out why the current tenants are leaving. This will give you a heads up if there are issues like noisy neighbours or lots of traffic in the area.
5. Can I paint the walls and hang art?
You don’t want to move into your new home and find out you can’t hang pictures. Find out if the owner will allow you to paint walls or hang art.
You might be required to fill any holes and repaint before you leave.
6. Is the property pet-friendly?
No-one wants to have to rehome their beloved pets. Find out beforehand if the property is pet-friendly. Don’t try to sneak in your pet. Neighbours and inspections will quickly give you away.
7. Who is responsible for maintenance?
Find out who is responsible for maintenance, from the minor jobs to major ones. This is particularly important if there’s an established garden or pool.
Ask if there are measures in place in case of a major repair like a burst geyser.
8. What security measures are there?
Find out about the security measures, especially in urban areas with high crime rates.
Burglar bars are standard in South Africa but ask about neighbourhood-watch patrols, alarm systems, electric fences and cameras in the area.
9. What rules and regulations are there?
Many neighbourhoods have rules relating to house colours, gardens, parking, animals and noise. Townhouses and apartment blocks almost always have a code of conduct. Ask to see a copy before signing the lease.
10. Is there a guest policy?
The owner may have a policy about long-term guests. Find out whether you can have people staying over for more than a night or two.
Subletting is seldom allowed, so don’t expect to run an Airbnb from the spare room without written permission from the owner and/or body corporate.
11. Will there be inspections and how often?
The estate agent will usually need to perform periodic inspections to ensure you’re keeping to the rules and maintaining the home.
Ask how often these are performed and what happens if you’re away.
12. Are there any optional utilities?
Some rentals have optional utilities that aren’t included in the monthly rent. These include DStv, extra parking, cleaning or internet services.
13. Is parking included in the rent?
Parking isn’t always guaranteed and some apartment blocks may charge extra for a dedicated parking space. Find out in advance if secure parking is important. Ask about visitor’s parking too.
14. What is the refuse arrangement?
Many modern apartment blocks have recycling policies and encourage you to separate your refuse. If the home is in a complex, there might be a caretaker who does this job. Find out when the refuse collection day is.
What XtraSpace offers
At XtraSpace, we don’t rent property in South Africa or offer expert advice about renting. If you’ve got a move coming up, however, you might be interested in our secure, affordable storage units. We also offer a full range of Ecobox packing and moving supplies. Contact us for more information or browse to find a branch near you.