The costs you may encounter when renting

By Isabelle Coetzee

When you rent an apartment or house, you agree to pay the rental amount, and you may have to cover the cost of some amenities such as water and electricity.

So then, which costs can you anticipate during the rental process? We have a look at how you can take account of your expenses throughout this process, and avoid unnecessary expenses.

Tip: To sidestep the costs of renting, you could take out a home loan and get your own place.

When can you expect costs to arise?

According to Shanaaz Trethewey, CEO and co-owner of RentMaster, there are three categories of costs that you ought to consider when you rent an apartment or house from your landlord.

However, it’s important to note that you may not be liable for each of these, and that the agent or landlord may absorb or void some of these costs, depending on their preference. After the initial costs, the remaining two categories will depend on what’s in your contract.

Here are the three categories:

  • The initial costs that tenants can expect include the lease costs and credit check and vetting costs. This is not always applicable, but be sure to find out beforehand.
  • During the period of the lease the costs include utilities, amenity costs, repair and maintenance, debt collection charges, bank charges, and interest on loans if funds are taken for deposits or rental payments.
  • At the end of the lease, the costs include repair and maintenance costs, rental arrears, documentation charges and bank charges on release of deposit, and interest accrual on deposit, depending on how it is defined in the lease agreement.

“You need to consider how each of these costs are being taken into account when engaging with an agent or landlord. You also need to enquire as to how you feature in the lease agreement,” says Trethewey.

She adds that you should ensure that an entry and exit inspection is conducted and agreed upon, as the repairs and damages to a property are quantified on this basis. 

“Without being present or having the entry inspection documented, it would create a difficult position for you should you be held liable for repair costs that you don’t believe you should pay,” says Trethewey.

She points out that the lease document also explores the costs of early cancellation of the lease and any guidelines for these penalties. 

“These penalties are inclusive of advertising costs, loss of income to the landlord, and additional costs that would be incurred to find a replacement tenant,” says Trethewey.

READ MORE: Can’t pay rent? This is what you should do

“It’s also important to note that, in the case of rental collection, bank charges and penalty fees for non-payment forms part of the rental debt to be settled,” says Trethewey.

She explains that when a lease is signed, there are always good intentions. However, she advises that you diligently read every detail in the lease agreement, and ask any questions upfront. 

“Taking this on board at the beginning can reduce a great deal of discomfort and distress later in the process, if things don’t go according to plan,” says Trethewey.

“Overall, there’s no exact answer as to how each cost should be treated or accounted for. What matters here is that the costs are discussed and a mutual agreement on the treatment is captured in your lease agreement,” she explains.

Try out our home loans calculator to find out how much you could borrow.

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