From landlord disputes to faulty electrics and everything in between, renting a property can be every bit as difficult as owning one

By: Nthabiseng Moloi, MiWay Insurance Head of Marketing & Brand

Renting a new home can be a difficult undertaking

Provided you are able to secure the property you have your eye on and meet all affordability requirements, rentals are seldom as hassle-free as they might appear.

From landlord disputes to faulty electrics and everything in between, renting a property can be every bit as difficult as owning one and as such, it is vital that you understand all the potential pitfalls of a move before signing your name on the dotted line.

Ultimately, while the nature of your relocation may not be permanent, it is still the place in which you are probably going to spend the majority of your free time – time you would probably rather not waste begging your landlord to fix the geyser for the umpteenth time.

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Many tend to rush into rentals, fearful of losing out on the opportunity to the next person in line. However, excess haste means obvious problems can easily go unnoticed and there is nothing worse than being bound to a lengthy tenure in a property with a weak phone signal, leaking pipes, or excess damp.

So, before you commit to a tenancy, here are a few key pointers to bear in mind:

Understand your responsibilities

When it comes to rental agreements, there is no such thing as a standard lease. While some landlords may include extras like electricity and water in the cost of rent, others may expect you to cover these expenses.

Upkeep of outdoor spaces is also likely to become your responsibility, so if you are renting a house with a garden, this is something important to bear in mind.

Leave some wiggle room

It might be tempting to shoot for the stars and put your monthly budget under strain to score that dream rental, but beware of living on the edge of affordability. Unforeseen expenses can quickly add up and without any manoeuvrability in your budget, you could find yourself facing eviction and credit blacklisting in the near future.

Additionally, it is important to take into account the required deposit – this can amount to as much as two months’ rental – before committing yourself to something you can barely afford.

Read more: 5 Common mistakes that renters should avoid

Read the fine print

Before taking on a new rental agreement, it is vital that you fully understand all the terms of your tenancy. What is the notice period on your rental? What is the standard rent increase year on year?

These are all important factors to take into long-term consideration and, by understanding the specific terms of your agreement, you will avoid unnecessary disputes with your landlord during your stay.

Make sure you are covered

While most rentals do include building insurance, the onus will likely be on the tenant to keep the contents of the home insured. As such, it is important to understand what is covered under the terms of your rental and ensure that you take out appropriate insurance to cover the rest. While this will likely have an impact on your available budget, it is a worthwhile investment as it could save you enormous costs should you encounter any unexpected breakages, or fall victim to a burglary.

Look out for warning signs

While your new home-to-be might seem like a sure thing, it is important to learn to spot signs that things might go wrong. Look out for traces of damp or mould and make sure to check things like water pressure and phone signal, which are not easily rectified once the deal is sealed. Should you have the opportunity, you would be well advised to speak to the previous tenants and ask them to fill you in on any key information about the property.

Read more: Perfect bathroom upgrade for a rental home

Perform a thorough inspection

Before moving in, make sure to conduct a thorough inspection of the property with your landlord, noting any defects, tile cracks or stains and ensuring that you have photographic evidence to support this. That way, should your landlord try to withhold any of your deposit for damage incurred by others, you will have a legal leg to stand on.

Understand your pets’ rights

Moving in with a furry friend or two? Do not assume that your new home is pet-friendly, as this can lead to serious issues down the line. So, before signing your agreement, ensure that your landlord understands that you have pets and that you in turn understand their rules and boundaries so as not to upset or anger your new neighbours.

MiWay is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970).