If you’re a student relocating to further your studies or you’ve just starting your first job and you are now looking to rent your first apartment, what can you expect? Either way, you may not be exactly clear on what steps need to be taken. Hopefully we can guide you through what needs to be done to get that apartment you’ve been dreaming of.

Know what you want. Before you go rushing off, try to picture what it is you are going to be looking for. How big an apartment will you be needing? Remember, bigger generally means more expensive. Do you want it furnished or unfurnished? Although furnished apartments may be more to rent than unfurnished, they will in the long term work out less expensive. Furnishing an apartment with just the basics will set you back thousands of rands, especially if you’re a first-time renter. Area too can play a roll. Popular, trendy, upmarket areas tend to be a lot more expensive than areas just a few kilometres away. Try to be realistic when weighing up your options. The more you can narrow your search, the easier it will be for you to get the apartment suited to you.

Can you afford it? The rule of thumb is that you allow an allocation of roughly 30% of your gross monthly salary toward your accommodation. But unfortunately, this is not where it ends. There are always those hidden unforeseen expenses that crop up that you didn’t plan for. What will you be paying for your lights and water? Will you be needing internet? Are there levies attached to your apartment? How far will you be travelling every day, and what sort of transport will you be using? Will you need a maid to do your cleaning, washing and ironing? And don’t forget, you will be needing to pay a security deposit before you move in. This is generally equal to one month’s rent.

What will you need? Before you can sign the lease and move in, your agent or landlord will more than likely require certain information from you. If you are a student, the onus will then fall on your parents or guardian. However if you are employed, you will have to show proof of earnings, either in the form of pay slips or bank statements. You might also be asked to submit references from somebody like your boss, a relative or a close colleague who can vouch for your integrity.

Be aware of scams. In this day of modern technology, scamming has become a lot easier than it was before. If you find a place that seems too good to be true, it generally will be! It is therefore advisable that you deal with reputable letting agents or landlords. All too often, people lose money to bad agents who prey on the innocent, unsuspecting public. Remember, not all apartments are what they seem. Here are a few red flags to look out for:

  • asking for extremely high fees to be paid upfront, before you’ve signed any lease or even seen the apartment
  • getting pressure to hurry up and pay
  • when you get a listing that says, “I’m out of the country at the moment…”, and you are asked to pay a certain fee to secure the apartment

If you’re not sure, don’t sign anything or hand over any monies until you’ve done a thorough check to ensure you know who you are dealing with. Mafadi is a leading property management company. If you have any questions or need help finding your first apartment please contact us.

Finally, read through the fine print. Before moving in, you will be asked to sign a lease agreement. Most leases are pretty standard stuff, but there will always be additional clauses pertaining to certain criteria and protocol you will need to follow. This is the fine print we are referring to. You need to read through this carefully and be fully aware of what you can and can’t do. If there is anything that you are not happy with or not sure of, get clarification so amendments can be made before you sign.

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