Let’s face it; being an adult sucks and some days we just don’t have the energy to ‘adult’ at all! Alas, at some point everyone has to cut the apron strings and venture out on their own. The most difficult part of venturing out alone is finding a place to live. Most of us, start off by renting a spot by ourselves or with friends and family and while you might not be signing your name on the deeds papers renting is still a huge responsibility! It is super important not to get too caught up in the excitement of finding THE perfect place before undertaking such a big commitment. So, today Michelle Dickens, Founder and Managing Director of TPN (the largest credit bureau in Africa to specialise in vetting tenants for rental properties) shares 4 things to consider before entering into a legal rental agreement.

1. I see the sign – signing a lease agreement:

Signing a lease agreement is an important step and Michelle strongly advises you sign one that no matter what the circumstance. “This will safeguard you as anything that is agreed to verbally, which is not stated in writing, becomes difficult to prove. So if the agent specifies special terms such as cleaning or painting of the unit before you move in, confirm that this is stipulated, otherwise there is the potential for disagreement.” says Michelle.

2. Shacking up with friends – co-signing a lease agreement:

Co-signing a lease agreement means that you are jointly liable for the contract. “Ensure that you are comfortable that the other person is going to take the commitment seriously, as there is the potential that their late or no payments can impact your credit record adversely. It will also preserve your relationship. If your friend or partner does not make a payment, then you are legally liable and therefore this has a direct impact on you” says Michelle. However it is not recommended that you enter into a lease agreement on your own when sharing a space with someone else. “This can leave you vulnerable to having to pay their portion”, says Michelle.

3. Do the maths – can you afford the spot?

It is important to do check your own finances as well. Don’t leave it up to the estate agent. “Doing your own affordability assessment is key to knowing what you can afford. Determine and evaluate your own financial status in terms of your credit history and other credit commitments”, says Michelle. “Remember to factor in potential additional costs for the unit such as sewerage, refuge or parking. Be aware of all the expenses that are involved upfront.”

4. Be organised – pay your rent on time:

“In order to secure and uphold a good tenant credit profile be certain to pay your rental payments on the specified date.” Michelle explains that late payment can negatively affect your credit profile and the consequences of having a black mark against your credit profile are just not worth it.