Buying a property in South Africa
As with any nation finding a nice place to live can be a challenge and South Africa is no exception. If you’re looking to rent a property for three to six months or to purchase a home outright it pays to visit the property in question first. It is strongly advised that you visit the region you want to live before committing to any purchases.
Short-term rental property can be found in the local press and tourist offices as well as the internet. Travel agents too can offer advice on such property as many foreign visitors to the country spend only a few months of the year there whilst on business. A number of UK newspapers advertise rental properties owned by British homeowners in South Africa. These include the Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph and Observer.
When you’ve chosen a property to rent, you must make an offer in writing. If an estate agent is handling the transaction, he will usually draw up a lease for you to sign (and might ask you for credit references and/or proof of income). If you aren’t buying through an agent, you can ask a lawyer to draft a lease or you can do so yourself, using the Rental Housing Act for guidance. All residential leases are governed by the Rental Housing Act, which stipulates that a rental lease must contain the following:
- The landlord’s name and address;
- The tenant’s name and address;
- The address of the property;
- The rent and any escalation (increases in rent over a period of time);
- Any other costs that the tenant must pay;
- When the rent must be paid, usually the first day of every calendar month;
- The amount of any deposit required;
- The period of the lease;
- The landlord’s and tenant’s obligations to each other;
- A list of the property’s existing defects, if any;
- Any house rules that the tenant has to obey;
- A list of fixtures and furniture (if applicable).
The law imposes the following obligations on landlords and tenants:
The landlord must issue a detailed written receipt for every payment received from the tenant.
If a deposit is paid, the landlord must invest it in an interest-bearing bank account and must give the tenant a written statement of the interest earned whenever the tenant asks for one.
Property prices and buying
Property prices in South Africa vary around the country, with cities generally boasting the most expensive prices.
Compared to the UK, South Africa’s property prices are remarkably cheap, meaning good value for your money, but be aware that you should visit the property first before buying. It doesn’t pay to be in a rush as you are sure to regret your decision if you haven’t taken the appropriate time to thoroughly research your chosen location. Many places have hidden pitfalls and buying the wrong home could prove to be a costly mistake.