The best-prepared tenants get the best properties at the best price.
So says Dr Piet Botha
, chairman of the Nationlink estate agency group, who suggests that would-be tenants approach their home search much as they would the hunt for a new job.
"In the current market there are many properties to rent, but in order to secure the one you want, at the right rent, you are going to have to impress your potential landlord, just as you would need to make a favourable impression on an employer in order to clinch a great new job.
"Of course finding the right home is just as critical to your personal satisfaction and happiness as your job and deserves your best effort. But, even more importantly, a home seeker who impresses a landlord as the sort of person who will care for the property is much more likely to be given a long lease and more favourable consideration when improvements to the property are requested.
"And a landlord who really wants to keep a good tenant may even be prepared to lower the rent, or at least defer a rent increase."
Botha says potential tenants should ensure that their credit record is in good shape, and should obtain the current contact information and permission of any referees ahead of time.
Then they should compile all the information and paperwork they may need to complete a rental application, including a list of previous addresses, bank account details, ID document, employer information and recent payslips.
They should also be prepared to pay a deposit, usually equivalent to a full month's rent, and ensure that they have the funds to cover any water and electricity supply connection fees that are required.
As to the actual home search, he says, this could begin on the bulletin board at work, where the seeker can post a "wanted" notice – or might even find an ad for a home in the neighbourhood that would enable them to share a lift to work.
Potential tenants should also enlist the help of friends, family and colleagues to find the right rental home. And of course they should read and respond to the latest rental listings in their local newspapers, property magazines and on the Internet as early as possible each day.
"Home seekers should also be very clear about their 'must haves' in a rental home - and what they really don't want - but be flexible on the rest of their criteria, and be prepared to make a quick decision when they find a property they like."
And finally, he says, tenants must be sure to update the insurance cover for their household goods when they move into their new home.