Finding a comfortable, safe new space to rent is extremely difficult if you don’t know what you are getting yourself into.  As such it is best to be prepared for your prospective landlord, to ask him all the questions you want.

These 13 Questions should be a good start…

1.     Utilities

  • Are the utilities included.
  • If not, what type are used, gas or electrical.
  • What are the avg monthly cost.

2.     What is required with the lease?

  • Monthly rent.
  • Security Deposit, how much is it.
  • Do I receive interest on my security deposit.
  • When Do I  have to pay the monthly rent.
  • How do I pay the monthly rent, cash or EFT.
  • How much notice is needed to terminate the lease contract.

3.     Can you make changes to the premises?

  • Can you paint.
  • Hang frames to the walls.
  • Make changes to the garden.

4.    Why are the current tenants leaving?

It is always a good idea to try and talk to the current tenants without the landlord, they will tell you if the landlord is unreasonable.

5.    Is this a smoking/pet friendly space?

Strangely enough I usually started with this question.  I was a smoker and I still have my two little pups. Landlords can be very strict about these two questions, start with this one, for it will end the interview immediately if it goes against your requirements.

6.     Who maintain the property?

  • Garden services, who pays for this?
  • Minor/Major repairs, what’s the process?

7.    Parking

  • How many permanent bays do you get?
  • Are the visitors parking?

8.    Security

  • What security system are in place?
  • What lock systems are used?
  • Did/Will the landlord replace important locks (Security gate) as a safety feature.
  • What is the charge for your set of keys?

9.    Any Guest policies?

Some complexes and landlords have strange policies when it comes to guest,  it is always best to ask about this. You should inform the  landlord if you have a semi-permanent boyfriend/girlfriend/mate that will be spending a lot of time at your new place.

10.   Additional services:

  • Garden Service?
  • DSTV services?
  • Maid Services?
  • Telephone Services?
  • Internet Services?

If you need any of these and they aren’t there ask your landlord if he will be willing to pay for the installation cost and you will cover the monthly charges.  Remind him that it is an added feature to his property.

11.   Are there any rules and regulations that I should be aware off?

Most complexes or apartment buildings have in house rules.  As a renter you have to keep to these rules and any other rules your prospective landlord can think off.

12.    What emergency plan is there is something big breaks?

Lets say for example the geyser breaks, you should know what the emergency plan is and how long it will be before you will have hot water again.  This is important, for I once had a landlord that took more than a week to fix the geyser, which meant for more than a week I had to shower at the gym.

13.    Are there regular inspections?

Some landlords feel the need to check up on their units and the way their tenants use their space in a regular fashion.  You need to decide, if this is such a landlord, and do you want to deal with him all the time.

As a previous renter I can say it is tiresome and time consuming to find that ideal space.  But I also remember that is was so rewarding when you did manage to find the perfect unit. You might have to communicate with your landlord a lot, so make sure the two of you can at least share a cup of coffee.

Also the best think I have learned from being a landlord is that we simply want renters that are respectful and responsible with our property.  Honestly the rest we will be reasonable about, or at least should be.  I do hope this has helped, it can be scary trying to find that new space to call your own, your not alone.

If you are looking to find a perfect rental unit the please go check out our rentals.  Really Mafadi has amazing spaces available.

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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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