It is generally advisable to use a well established or recommended agent. A very patient one who does not mind showing as many possible properties till you find is also a bonus.
When searching for property, it is generally advisable in the interest of time to confirm 100% with the agent that the property you are setting off to view is still available.
On the actual viewing, it is worthwhile observing how well maintained the property is. If for example, you are viewing a property that blatantly has damp issues or roof leakages, the fact that you are being shown this property in that current condition, says something about the maintenance culture of your prospective landlord.
After you have viewed a property and want to go ahead with renting, ask to speak to the landlord personally. If he happens to be abroad, ask to speak with him. If you have to deal with a representative, check the legitimacy of his/her representation. Where there is still doubt about whether you are truly dealing with the owners, a chat with the neighborhood can also help. The use of a good agent however normally neutralizes this risk.
Where one is renting an apartment or town house within a gated development, it is very important to have a good look around the development to ascertain if the premises are being maintained properly. Clothes hanging on windows and balconies, dirty swimming pools and compound are signs that the management company for the said development is not effective. Would they manage items like generators and general problem solving effectively? In a market where there is currently a lot of choice, it is worth paying for the best.
When going on to sign the agreement, the following clarifications are vital
1. If there is a generator, who services the generator? In the current energy crisis, is there additional cost for diesel apart from service chargers?
2. Who pays the withholding tax? This is normally the Landlords responsibility, however some landlords expect the tenant to pay particularly when they are corporate entities. It is worth checking this out since it can be an added cost of 8%.
3. It is worth knowing what the percentage increases are in subsequent years of the tenancy, if any, and ensure they are clearly stated in the agreement.