Make a list, check it twice
Gone forever are gut instinct tenant decisions. Now, screening tenants is nearly as complex as voting for a political party. Landlords gather a long list of personal information and turn it over to a screening company, such as Tenant Profile Network (TPN) who feed the data into a vast network of computer systems that confirm or deny potential renters’ claims.
TPN do the analysis, but the landlord is the one who meets the tenant and collects the data. Most applicants report their information correctly and expect a background check. Those who want to hide something may try to do it a couple of ways.
“People are sophisticated about this,” said Michelle Dickens of TPN. “If they give you the wrong date of birth, the credit will come back OK but a criminal record won’t show up.”
Just Property also advises landlords to review driver’s licenses and make sure the data and signature on the application match. They should verify that the license belongs to the person applying for tenancy. This step guards against a person with a clean past applying for a rental property; and another person, with a problem past, being the actual tenant.
Use this checklist to make sure you get the best information possible:
- Check ID and make sure it matches what they wrote on the application.
- Get complete, full formal name.
- Verify that the licence on the application and card are the same.
- Verify that date of birth is on the application is identical to that on official documents.
- Current and previous addresses. Get complete name, address and phone number of current and former rental site and landlord (if separate). Verify, from an independent source, the former landlord’s identity, address and phone number before you contact them for a reference. This will protect you from contacting an applicant’s “friend” who will provide a false reference.
- Driver’s license number. Check name, address and date of birth against other sources. Examine the photograph to make sure it’s the same person who is applying. Examine signature on driver’s license and application to make sure they are the same.
- Applicant’s signature is necessary to run checks.
Paul Stevens CEO of Just Property says that following these steps could prevent causing a huge liability or at minimum, massive inconvenience for you as a landlord. If a report comes back with a problem, the decision to rent or not rent is up to the landlord.
Here are three ways you can ensure that your tenants continue to renew their lease with you.
- Understand their needs
Gone are the days when received the signed lease, the deposit and first month’s rent then handed over the keys. If you really want to ensure that your good tenants stay you will have understand their needs.
- Build a relationship with your tenant
A lease agreement is a long term relationship and it is important to establish a solid relationship with your tenant. A sound relationship also allows your tenant to have more open conversations with you.
- Deliver on your side of the agreement
Lastly, your lease agreement is a two-way agreement and you need to be delivering on your side of the deal. Ultimately, this will benefit you in the long run. A happy tenant has no reason to leave.
When renting out property bear in mind that the best is to enlist the services of a reputable and qualified property manager or rental agent. It is important to have contracts that are CPA compliant. Stevens says that, ‘It is far better to use an reputable property manager because there are a lot of legal requirements that govern rental leases which landlords don’t really consider.’
About Just Property
Just Property is a property wealth creation company offering a full spectrum of professional services in residential and commercial sales, letting and property management, new developments and investor education across the country since 2000. With over 100 franchise offices in South Africa and Namibia, we draw on our extensive industry experience to assist you to purchase and manage property in South Africa.
Just Property was recently awarded The International Property Awards as the best Letting Agency and highly commended Real Estate Agency in South Africa for 2015/2016.
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Contact: Carla Visagie +27 41 581 6471