Most tenants do want to keep a decent roof over their heads and they know that the way to get this is to pay their rent on time and in full, according to David Beattie, principal of Chorus Letting, which specialise in residential letting in Cape Town.
There are important issues to bear in mind though, to be able to continue collecting regular and prompt payments from your tenants.
“Prevention is better than cure. Renting a property out should be handled like any other business risk and must be managed professionally. If you have a good tenant to begin with you won’t be running the risk of late payments, so the tenant vetting process is probably the most important part of a rental collection process. In my experience, most rent collection problems could have been avoided by placing the correct tenant from the beginning,” says Beattie.
“Communicate clearly to your tenants what you expect from them when they move in, such as what date the rent is expected to be paid and what utilities bills or amounts need to be paid. They should receive statements each month showing what has been paid and what is owed.
“Get to know your tenant, so that if problems arise you might see the warning signs before it is too late, for instance if there is an uncharacteristically late payment of the rent. It sometimes happens that couples split up or someone has lost a job. The better you know your tenant the more likely you will be to follow the appropriate course of action.”
Beattie says landlords and rental agents need to be proactive and act quickly when decisions have to be made. He also says that if a tenant has not paid, you need to keep checking on where the payment is.
“Last, be prepared to negotiate with tenants. The natural reaction is to be hard or inflexible but in our experience flexibility usually achieves the best long term result. If a tenant is going through tough times, be prepared to release that tenant from the lease if that is the best solution. Managing your tenants with respect and understanding will mean that solutions can be found most of the time.”