It’s vital to follow crucial procedures to obtain the best tenant possible, such as previous landlord checks, employment checks and credit checks before a tenant’s application is accepted, says Samantha du Plessis of Faircape Leasing,
There are three credit bureaus generally in use in South Africa – Transunion, Experian and Tenant Profile Network. Running a credit check on all three systems is essential, as a default, judgment, notice and/or trace alert could show up on some of the credit checks and not on all three, so you wouldn’t get a true reflection of the tenant’s credit profile, she says.
“Once you have done all the necessary checks, and everything looks good on paper, the most important check that there is no written record of is how the person lives, or the personal habits of the tenant, which can lead to problems in the future.
“Landlords need to understand that when placing tenants in their property there is always the risk that the tenant could default in many ways. These include non-payment of rent, contravention of the body corporate rules, and not maintaining the apartment in the manner that it was given. To deal with any default there are legal procedures that need to be followed, and if these aren’t followed correctly, this could be in the tenant’s favour.”
At present all residential evictions are regulated by the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land act of 1998, known as the PIE Act.
Marlon Shevelew, a well established eviction attorney, who has much experience with evictions and works closely with the Rental Housing Tribunal, says the secret to a successful eviction is to ensure that the appropriate letter of demand and cancellation (in accordance with the lease agreement) have been sent by the time the eviction application is brought, as this serves as the basis upon which an eviction application is brought.
“To lawfully evict a tenant, the court must grant an order for the eviction of the unlawful occupier wherein it determines a just and equitable date on which the unlawful occupier must vacate the premises. It also specifies the date on which the eviction order may be carried out if the unlawful occupier has not vacated the premises on the vacation date specified,” says Shevelew.
“Since there is entrenched constitutional protection in place, the courts will always balance all relevant circumstances before granting an eviction order. The importance of following the correct procedures from the inception of the first letter sent to the tenant cannot be stressed enough. Not only does the landlord or property manager have to ensure that there is compliance with the Rental Housing Act, but they must be alive to all circumstances of the tenant which may play a part in ensuring an expedited or alternatively a protracted eviction process.”
Shevelew and du Plessis say that if a tenant has defaulted it is advisable to start legal proceedings sooner rather than later.
“You can be assured that the tenant will make promises or excuses, but in most cases this is a delay tactic. Most landlords would prefer tenants who have defaulted to leave as soon as possible, so the landlord can find a new tenant as soon as possible to minimise loss of income.
“And most landlords would agree that property has always been a good investment, so when you have good tenants, hold onto them,” they say.