Renting Safely 101: Searching for a great Landlord

When you’re in the battlefield that is rental house hunting, sometimes it’s quite hard to spot a good Landlord in the fray. In a bid to quickly secure a rental that matches exactly what you need, you might overlook certain tell tale signs that can warn you a Landlord might become ‘admin’ down the line.

The Good, The Bad, and The Down-Right Scary!

Lets face it, not all Landlords are nice, awesome or understanding. Some Landlords are from hell and you don’t want to be stuck dealing with them for 12 months.

A good Landlord is someone who knows that the best way to service their investment is to make sure that the people living there are properly taken care of and that their Tenants not only pay their rent on time, but treat his property as if it were their own.

A bad Landlord is someone who cares very little for their investment and even less about the person living in it. So what signs can you look out for?

Your face when the Landlord says the first person to qualify and pay the deposit will get the place.

Your face when the Landlord says the first person to qualify and pay the deposit will get the place.

 

Really LOOK at the property

Most properties are repainted on the inside when a new Tenant arrives. What are the interior walls painted with? Does it look like the Landlord watered down the paint? Can you kinda see through it? What about the cleanup? Are there paint blobs on the skirting boards?

When you’re viewing the place take photos and tell the Landlord you’re doing it! Not only is this great for posting to Twitter with “Oh Em GEE @beckyxox look at that view! ” but it lets you document the state of the rental before you take ownership. If the Landlord has any issues with you doing this it might be a sign that they’re prone to withholding some (if not all) of your deposit when you decide to leave.

Inspect the state of the external walls & fences, garden and driveway especially in rentals that are free standing. Are the fences & walls in a maintained state? Security is important and a flimsy or broken wall might be a security risk and will definitely impact your insurance costs!

Really LOOK at the Landlord

Is your every communication with them on a different email address, using a different phone number or even with many different ‘names’ or parties? A Landlord here to to business is a professional and will act like it.

Most of the time they will speak to you with one number (being their landline and/or mobile) and almost always from the same email address. If the first email you get is from JamesSmith98@gmail.com and the next is from standardbank15@hotmail.com, or the Landlord only communicates only via whatsapp or from public phones you should probably step away from the deal. (Please report them to us .)

They’re asking you to provide a lot of personal information for your application, you’re fully within your right to ask them some questions about the rental history. How long have they been renting the place out for? Whats the average lease length? Have they had to evict any of their previous Tenants and why? Google their full name as well as the mobile number they use and see if there are any hits that match them. Would they be willing to give you the outgoing Tenants number for you to call?

Do they seem to be ok doing a ‘verbal lease’? Not only is this illegal but it doesnt protect you, the Tenant, at all in a court of law. This is a big one.

What is their attitude like and where do they stay? Landlords are allowed to schedule non-frequent site visits (with a proper notice period) to inspect their property. This is normal but be aware if they plan to do spot-check visits as this is not only a privacy issue but is a real pain to deal with.

 

Its also worth mentioning that you should trust your gut here. If the Landlord is giving you weird vibes you should probably walk away. Better that than being stuck in a long term contractual agreement with someone who could evict you, withhold your deposit or even worse, stalk you on Facebook.