Rental payment problems are a norm in South Africa. In this article, we share the best tips on what to do if you can’t pay or you are behind on your property rental agreement.
Not being able to keep up with your rent is stressful, but the worst thing to do is to do nothing.
There are options available to help you stay in your home and avoid eviction.
Steps to take if you’re struggling to pay your rental
- Make it your highest priority payment – Rent should be your highest priority payment – it’s for your home! It should be the first payment you make on payday. If you fall behind, keep paying what you can afford and return to normal payments and catch up on missed payments as soon as possible.
- Budget and scrutinize your cash flow – Recognise bad spending habits and make a plan, such as working out what you need to spend each day for the rest of the month before you go shopping. Cut back on luxury items such as cakes, cool drinks, and coffee shop visits if these are stretching your budget. Work out how much you can afford to spend before you go out for dinner and don’t deviate from this. The internet is a wonderful resource to help with cutting back on food expenses. Search for restaurants that offer specials on certain days of the week or even better, sharpen your culinary skills and learn to prepare gourmet dishes at home for less.
- Contact your landlord or rental agent – If you’re about to go into arrears, or are already in arrears, inform your landlord or rental agent and let them know you want to negotiate a repayment plan. When you speak to them, explain your circumstances and ask for them to take your hardship into consideration. Explain how you will be able to pay the ongoing rent and also catch up on any missed rent payments. It is best to make sure that your contact and negotiations with your landlord or rental agent are in writing so you have a record of what happened. For example, you might have a phone call first but can confirm the conversation by email. Even if your landlord or rental agent rejects your offer, you can use these records as evidence that you tried to resolve the matter. Stay in regular contact with your landlord or rental agent so they know what is happening.
- Contact the Rental Housing Tribunal – If you can’t come to an agreement with your landlord or rental agent, or if you have been served a notice to vacate, call your nearest Tenancy Advice and Advocacy Service for free information and advice. They can give you advice about what to do in your circumstances. Your local tenancy service will also know exactly what is happening in your area and give you tips on how to negotiate with your landlord or rental agent and what to do if you cannot agree. They may be also able to help you find a grant or concession that you’re eligible for. (Download this information pack about the Rental Housing Tribunial)
- Speak to one of our debt counsellors – If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need some help to deal with your financial hardship, you can speak with one of our financial counsellors.
Debt counsellors cannot be judgmental about your circumstances – they’re here to offer you free, confidential and independent advice and assistance.
To speak to a debt counsellor you can:
- Call the National Debt Helpline on 0410125036 – open on Weekdays from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.
- Use our live chat service by clicking the chat icon in the bottom right corner of your screen. Live chat is available 8:00 am-4:30 pm on weekdays. If you send a message outside these hours a debt counsellor will get back to you.
- Make an appointment for a free 1-hour consultation– Book a Debt Counsellor.