Should you rent out your garden cottage?

Renting out a garden cottage within your property can be an enticing prospect for many homeowners. It offers the opportunity to earn extra income and utilize unused space. However, like any decision, there are both advantages and disadvantages to consider before taking the plunge into becoming a landlord on your own property.

“Renting out a garden cottage or separate section of your home is not just about earning extra income; it's about unlocking the hidden potential within your property. Especially now that interest rates as high as they are, the extra income can make it much easier to afford your home loan repayments,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

Before going through with this decision, Goslett advises homeowners to carefully consider the downsides before allowing a tenant to share the property with you. “While renting out a portion of your home can have many financial benefits, homeowners need to make sure they are also okay with the lifestyle changes this decision might bring about,” he cautions.

For example, sharing a property with a tenant might mean that there will be compromises on privacy. “Sharing the same garden space with a tenant inevitably means sacrificing some degree of privacy. Homeowners may find it challenging to maintain boundaries and personal space, especially if the tenant is overly intrusive or disruptive. If possible, adding fences and shrubbery can help to create greater separation,” says Goslett.

Dealing with problematic tenants can be another major headache for homeowners and can become even more awkward when the tenant lives on the same property as the landlord. “Issues such as late rent payments, property damage, or conflicts around late night parties and other disruptive behaviours can strain the relationship between the homeowner and tenant. That’s why it’s always beneficial to work through a rental agent who can act as the mediator between the landlord and the tenant,” he recommends.

On the upside, Goslett mentions that having someone else living on the same property can enhance security, especially if the homeowner frequently travels or leaves the property unoccupied for extended periods. A tenant's presence can deter burglars and provide peace of mind.

Short-term or long-term leasing, what is the best for you?

Each option has its unique attractions, challenges, and benefits, shaped by market demands, the investor’s lifestyle, investment goals, and risk tolerance - here are some of the pros and cons of both.

Long-Term Leasing

Attraction: The traditional appeal of long-term leasing lies in its predictability and simplicity. Investors are generally attracted to the steady, predictable income stream, reduced turnover costs, and lower operational demands.


  • Stable Income: Long-term leases provide a consistent and predictable income over the contract period, typically 6-12 months or more.
  • Lower Operational Costs: Fewer tenant turnovers result in reduced costs associated with cleaning, repairs, and marketing for new tenants.
  • Less Time-Intensive: Once a reliable tenant is secured, the day-to-day management of the property is significantly less demanding than with short-term rentals.


  • Lower Flexibility: It's more challenging to adjust rental prices in response to market changes due to the fixed nature of lease agreements.
  • Potential for Long-Term Headaches: Dealing with difficult tenants or ensuring rent is paid on time can become ongoing issues.
  • Limited Access: Owners lose immediate access to their property, making it difficult to use personally or sell during the lease period without complications.

Short-Term Rentals

Attraction: The rise of the sharing economy has propelled platforms like Airbnb, which appeals investors due to potentially higher returns and flexibility.


  • Higher Potential Income: Short-term rentals can command significantly higher nightly rates compared to the monthly rate of long-term leases, especially in high-demand or tourist-centric locations.
  • Flexibility: Owners can adjust pricing dynamically in response to market demand, seasonality, and special events. There's also the flexibility to block out periods for personal use.
  • Market Responsiveness: Investors can quickly adapt to real estate market changes, adjusting their rental strategy as needed.


  • Increased Management and Operational Demands: Short-term rentals require more hands-on involvement, including managing bookings, communicating with potential and current guests, and handling cleaning and maintenance more frequently.
  • Income Variability: Earnings can be significantly higher during peak seasons but may drop off during off-peak times, leading to less predictability in cash flow.
  • Potentially more volatile property values: Although some coastal regions are thriving due to semigration, the values of properties in holiday locations are traditionally more volatile, booming in the good times and crashing when the markets are down.
  • Regulatory Challenges: Some regions have introduced strict regulations around short-term rentals, including licensing requirements, limits on the number of days a property can be rented out, and additional taxes.

How to keep your tenants happy and increase rental rentention

Here are some top tips to become the landlord that tenants love, ensuring they stay and take care of your property.

Transparency and honesty

Honesty is the best policy, especially when dealing with tenants. Be transparent about the property's condition, any potential issues, and the terms of the lease. Answering prospective tenants' questions truthfully helps build trust and sets the foundation for a positive relationship.

Make them feel welcome

Moving to a new place can be stressful. A small gesture like a welcome gift or a meal on a moving day can go a long way in making your tenants feel appreciated. You can provide them with information about the area, such as nearby amenities and transportation options, to help them settle in comfortably.

Here is our ultimate moving guide that you can share with your new tenants

Clear communication channels

Establish clear lines of communication from the beginning. Provide tenants with contact information for emergencies and a preferred method of contact for routine matters. This helps prevent misunderstandings and ensures that issues are addressed promptly.

Quick responses to concerns

Be responsive to your tenants' needs, especially when it comes to repairs or maintenance. Promptly addressing their concerns shows that you value their well-being and the condition of your property. Regular maintenance also prevents minor issues from escalating into major problems.


While enforcing lease terms is important, being flexible in certain situations can help maintain a positive relationship. Understand that emergencies and unforeseen circumstances can arise, and be willing to accommodate reasonable requests from your tenants.

Screening and lease agreement

Screening potential tenants thoroughly and having a comprehensive lease agreement are essential steps in finding the right tenant. A well-drafted lease sets expectations for both parties and provides a framework for resolving disputes.

Find out what information should be in a lease

Rental incentives

Consider offering rental incentives to encourage tenants to renew their lease. This could include rent discounts, property upgrades, or simply asking tenants what they need to stay longer.

Good management

If you prefer not to engage directly with tenants, consider hiring a property management company to handle communication and maintenance. A professional management service can help ensure that both you and your tenants are satisfied with the rental arrangement.

Regular maintenance and upgrades

Keeping your property well-maintained and up-to-date shows tenants you care about their comfort and satisfaction. Regular upgrades and repairs can also increase the property's value and appeal.

Being open to rental negotiations

Waiving annual rent increases if you can or offering competitive rental rates can incentivize tenants to stay. Conducting market research to ensure your rental prices are fair and competitive can help retain good tenants.

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