Let’s continue where we left of last week with our 10 Mistakes new landlords make.

6. Over estimating a gentlemen’s agreement

Many new landlords make the mistake to work on a handshake or gentlemen’s agreement system. This unfortunately has very little bases in the court of law in the case of an eviction. Landlords need to ensure they have the correct paperwork when they need it, not after the person has moved in, the day they move in.

Recording the conversations between you (the landlord) and your tenant is a good idea. However you have to inform the tenant that you are recording the conversation, ensure the “yes” to the recording is also recorded.

Make sure you have 2 copies of everything and also ensure that all copies are signed and dated by both parties, landlord and tenant PLUS the witness.

We have a few documents that you as landlord might find handy;)


7. Keep checking in

Many new landlords make the mistake to never check in after the tenants moved in. This is a mistake, because if something were to go wrong, there will be no one to blame other than yourself. It is your responsibility as landlord to check in regularly to ensure your property is kept in a good condition.

Be aware that you have to keep to the rules and regulation of your contract, and our Housing Act, meaning:

Tenants Rights and Obligations from Private Property gives you a quick and clear understanding.


8. If you need an eviction, make it a legal one

It is very important that you as landlord make no mistakes when a rental matter becomes unfriendly. Ensure that your path is honourable and legal (paperwork is important), this way you will stand the best chance in court.

It is important that you don’t wait long for an eviction to start taking place. The generosity of allowing your tenant a few weeks/months of free/back paid rent can significantly worsen your circumstances. It is for this reason that you always have to be ready for any situation. Make sure you have the paperwork and have a read up about evictions beforehand.

It is important that you also never ask questions that will lead to your questioning…
Meaning don’t be discriminating, by not asking potential discriminating questions, you are ensuring that the matter never comes into question. Consider give the South African Housing Act a read.

9. Keep your emotions intact

Many new landlords make the mistake to be too involved in the property, this is either by wanting to make friends with your new tenants or thinking of the property as your home. In both cases you need to step back and re-evaluate your own mindset.

You should remember that your tenants aren’t your friends, they are a person that went into a business agreement with you. Money for accommodation, it’s that simple and it should stay that simple. Good and open communication between landlord and tenants are essential, but keep them short and to the business at hand.

Another common mistake is that new landlords often look at a property from their personal perspective. Thinking this is a bad property, because they want a property with parking. Instead of seeing a property that is close to a varsity and has excellent public transport around it. It is understandable that you may want a parking spot, but a student (an excellent target market for the property) will find it useless.

Investment property should always be considered with a business mind, keep the personal touches to a bare minimum. This goes the same for decorating. Don’t go paint the walls green and orange because you like it, paint them a colour so that all tenants will be comfortable.

Remember it is a business, an investment, not an personal DIY art project


10. Don’t overextend yourself

Small portfolio landlords often make the mistake to over extend themselves, resulting in a poor job regarding everything. It is important that you know where you can use your resources and skills to the best. There is no point spending hourers fixing a maintenance matter, when a professional would have done it in half the time and price (considering your hourly rate). DIY landlords often think they can save a few bucks by doing it all themselves, the admin and maintenance. This is a honourable gesture, but often inefficient (I learned this the hard way).

Consider the time and frustrations the professionals in trade and a property manager can save you. Being a DIY landlord is handy if you have the time and skill. If not, then rather ask the professional as they will better know how to get the best return on investment for you. Because it about the money, not the emotions… it’s a business after all.


Taking on a new endeavour is always stressful in simply not knowing what to look out for, where the pit falls may be.  I’m sure however that our 10 Mistake new landlords make has help and will ensure that you jump right over those costly initial mistakes.  As a new landlord you should also be honest and realise if you need help.  You may not need it always, but a good property management company can give you a safe head start.

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Written by Lizl Brink, Lizl is copywriter and designer based in Johannesburg, she is also a frequent contributor to the Mafadi blog, and as an Urban investor and rejuvenation shares a passion for urban regeneration, go check out her personal portfolio here
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