State of the Rental Industry Survey 2022

Property professionals prepare for growth in 2023

A skyline view of Cape Town metropolitan city with high-rise buildings just before sunset
A skyline view of Sandton buildings


Insights into South Africa’s R1 trillion real estate sector

South Africa has the largest real estate sector in sub-Saharan Africa, with sales and rental activity amounting to $50.2 billion (R1 trillion) in 2019.

PayProp South Africa, a leading FinTech payment processing platform, processes R12bn in rent payments in South Africa annually, and $2.7 billion globally. A large contributor to our global business growth is PayProp’s ability to empower our clients with bank-grade safe, secure, regulated and reconciled financial transactions.

As such, we are proud and excited to bring you the results of our fourth annual PayProp State of the Rental Industry Survey results. Enjoy!

Who took part?

The real estate sector has always championed women’s employment. The most recent Stats SA Real Estate Report for 2020 indicates that 57% of the real estate workforce is female, trending upwards from 43% in 2016.

Mirroring the prominent role of women in the industry, our fourth annual PayProp State of the Rental Industry Survey data continues to highlight the role of women in property, with 75.1% of the responses coming from women.

Are you a PayProp user?





What is your gender?





Which of the following best describes your job?

A bar chart illustrating job roles in the property industry. Rental administration is the role for 32.8% of respondents. Estate agency owner/business partner is mentioned by 32.2% of respondents. Rental agent represents 27.0% of respondents. Another job within the property industry is reported by 7.9% of respondents

How old are you?

Pie chart representing the age distribution of respondents. The age group 18-24 accounts for 2.1% of respondents. The age group 25-34 represents 16.0% of respondents. Those aged 35-44 make up 20.2% of respondents. The age group 45-54 is reported by 26.3% of respondents. The age group 55-64 represents 21.8% of respondents. Those aged 65 and over make up 13.4% of respondents. Only 0.1% of respondents prefer not to disclose their age.

More young South Africans choosing careers in real estate

Steven Ngubeni, chairperson of the Property Practitioner Regulatory Authority, recently noted at the 2023 Real Estate Business Owners of South Africa (REBOSA) conference that there are 15 000 fully-registered property practitioners in the country, with an extraordinarily high number of interns coming through the system – over 30 000.

The ability to enter the workforce and start earning commission, even as an intern or while studying part-time, is especially attractive when the cost of living is rising so significantly. A career in real estate has low barriers to entry, while being potentially very lucrative.

Our survey results confirm that the real estate industry continues to draw the attention of the younger generations. PayProp is encouraged by the comparatively sizeable number of 18-24 year old survey respondents. Notably, the 25-34 year old generation is also well represented, making up 16% of respondents. A career in real estate peaks at 45-54 years of age (26.3% of the real estate workforce), whereafter the proportion of respondents in subsequent age brackets starts to decrease.

A map of the South Africa broken down into its different provinces

Where is your business located?

Our respondents represented property professionals from across the country, with the largest numbers working in Gauteng and the Western Cape.

A representation of the locations of businesses in South Africa. Gauteng accounts for the largest portion at 31.4% of businesses. The Western Cape follows closely with 32.0%. KwaZulu-Natal is reported by 10.9% of businesses. The Eastern Cape is mentioned by 10.3% of businesses. Mpumalanga represents 4.2% of businesses. North West is reported by 5.2% of businesses. Free State accounts for 2.0% of businesses. Limpopo represents 2.5% of businesses. The Northern Cape is mentioned by 1.3% of businesses. Only 0.1% of businesses are located outside of South Africa.


The rental market in South Africa consists of almost three million households who rent from private owners.

Property investors track various tenant metrics to measure the risk and profitability of property investments, and tenants are a key determinant of landlord risk. Our PayProp State of the Rental Industry Survey sheds further light on these risks and other trends emerging in property investment.

*Source: Stats SA General Household Survey 2021

High vacancy rates mean no rental income for some, which translates into higher risk and lower profitability for property investors as a whole.

High tenant arrears will impact the collection of rental income and the knock-on effect will ultimately weaken profitability.

Low rental increases weaken income growth for landlords and investors. When combined with high property expenses, inflation drags the landlord’s profitability down.

This is the environment that landlords and property professionals are navigating at the moment.

Almost half of our respondents (45.7%) reported that tenant arrears are higher than usual. While concerning, this is not surprising with high current unemployment, rising interest rates and increasing inflation.

This year, tenant arrears have been:

Pie chart representing the level of tenant arrears this year. Lower than usual arrears are reported by 17.9% of respondents. The same level of arrears as usual is mentioned by 36.4% of respondents. Higher than usual arrears are reported by 45.7% of respondents.

This year, the number of vacant properties on your book has been:

Pie chart representing the number of vacant properties on the book this year. Lower than usual vacancies are reported by 32.6% of respondents. The same number of vacancies as usual is mentioned by 35.2% of respondents. Higher than usual vacancies are reported by 32.2% of respondents.

This year, the rental increases that you have implemented have been:

Pie chart illustrating the rental increases implemented this year. Lower than usual increases are reported by 42.6% of respondents. The same level of increases as always is mentioned by 37.9% of respondents. Higher than usual increases are reported by 19.5% of respondents.

And what drives vacancies? It’s all about location, location, location!

It’s a tough market, where higher vacancies and weak demand from quality tenants hamper the ability of rental agents to apply inflation-linked rental increases. More than 40% of respondents indicated that they implemented lower-than-usual rental increases in the past year, with only 19.5% saying their increases were higher than usual.

Time on the market

How long does it usually take to find a new tenant for a property?

Pie chart representing the average time it takes to find a new tenant for a property. Less than a week is reported by 9.6% of respondents. 1-2 weeks is mentioned by 22.9% of respondents. 2-4 weeks is reported by 38.2% of respondents. 1-2 months is mentioned by 24.7% of respondents. Longer than 2 months is reported by 4.6% of respondents.

According to our survey, market expectations are that rental properties will continue to have a short market turnaround time.

Survey participants observed that tenants typically give one month’s notice. And on average, 70.7% of rental agents are able to secure a tenant in four weeks or less.

Why are tenants moving?

Pie chart illustrating the reasons for tenants moving. Moving to more affordable properties is reported by 75.7% of respondents. Buying their own properties is mentioned by 50.1% of respondents. Relocating to a different town/province is reported by 40.2% of respondents. Looking for a smaller home is mentioned by 20.1% of respondents. Looking for a bigger home for a growing family is reported by 18.0% of respondents. Emigrating is mentioned by 15.4% of respondents. Looking for a home with office space is reported by 11.5% of respondents. Moving closer to family is mentioned by 4.1% of respondents.
*Respondents could choose up to 3 reasons.

Tenants on the move

It is hardly surprising that 75.7% of respondents point to affordability as one of the main reasons for tenants moving home. Homeownership also remains a top priority for tenants, with 50.1% of respondents reporting that tenants are buying their own property.

This is down from a high of 65.6% the previous year – no doubt the higher interest rates have lessened tenants’ ability to secure an affordable mortgage.

A young couple sitting on the floor drinking from their coffee mugs with boxes in the background after moving into their new apartments


Landlords are the lifeblood of the rental market. Almost 3 million households in South Africa rent from private landlords.

Coupled with a growing population and a growing number of households in rented tenure, landlord confidence in the residential rental market is vital for its sustainability.

On that score, confidence seems to be returning to the market as respondents report a slowdown in the number of landlords selling their rental properties from a year ago (2021: 53.6%).

*Source: Stats SA General Household Survey 2021

What are your landlords' current plans and activities?

Pie chart representing the current plans and activities of landlords. Landlords looking to buy additional rental properties are reported by 9.3% of respondents. Landlords maintaining their current portfolios are mentioned by 43.0% of respondents. Landlords selling properties are reported by 47.7% of respondents.

Navigating the trends and legal framework of the property market can be daunting.

Property professionals find themselves at the coal face of the transaction and have a responsibility to educate and empower landlords and tenants. It is concerning that survey respondents still report that more than half of landlords lack an understanding of the market.

Do you feel that landlords have a good understanding of the current rental market?






The profitability of rental property has been under pressure for many years.

Rent escalations lag property expense inflation, while higher vacancies and higher tenant arrears add further pressure to the bottom line. 

Landlords look to property practitioners to improve profitability by securing quality tenants through their extensive market experience as well as collecting rent in full and on time with safe and secure FinTech platforms such as PayProp. 

Property professionals are equally interested in working with technology partners who can streamline their business processes to ensure a more efficient and scalable property portfolio.

Professionals seek tech partners for efficient and scalable property portfolios.

Disagree Neutral Agree
It is more productive to increase automation than to increase the workforce 6.4% 26.4% 67.2%
It is cheaper to increase automation than to increase the workforce 6.9% 25.3% 67.8%
Property technology is a worthwhile investment 1.1% 7.2% 91.7%
I expect to pay more for technology that allows me to grow my business 5.0% 25.9% 69.2%
Over the last 12 months, automation has increased in our business 7.2% 32.8% 60.0%
Automation will have a positive impact on my job over the next 5 years 2.5% 16.4% 81.0%

67.2% of respondents agree that it is more productive to increase automation than to increase the workforce

67.8% of respondents agree that it is cheaper to increase automation than to increase the workforce

91.7% of respondents agree that property technology is a worthwhile investment

69.2% of respondents expect to pay more for technology that allows them to grow their business

60% of respondents have increased automation in their business in the previous 12 months

81% of respondents agree that automation will have a positive impact on their job over the next 5 years

Participants ranked the following PropTech selection criteria in order of importance.

Pie chart illustrating the considerations related to PropTech. Safety of client funds is reported as a consideration by 80.6% of respondents. System security is mentioned by 66.3% of respondents. Functionality is reported as a consideration by 41.7% of respondents. Support is mentioned by 33.2% of respondents. Ease of use is reported as a consideration by 27.2% of respondents. Cost is mentioned by 27.0% of respondents. Integrations with other systems are reported as a consideration by 13.4% of respondents. Brand reputation is mentioned by 10.5% of respondents.

It’s clear from the survey results that property professionals are eager to engage and invest in new PropTech that will improve their productivity and have a positive impact on their business and their career.

PropTech is not only about productivity and positive impact. Most importantly, 48.1% of property professionals ranked the safety of client funds as the number one factor when considering property technology and 80.6% included it in their top 3. PayProp is proudly a FinTech platform that ensures every rand and cent is reconciled and balanced every day, ensuring client money doesn’t go missing.

Rounding out the top 3 PropTech considerations are system security, picked by 66.3% of respondents, along with 41.7% who value world-class support.

Two ladies and a gentlemen having a discussion in a brightly lit room


The life of a property professional

Nearly half of the survey respondents indicated that they were back at the office full-time, and almost a third are taking advantage of a hybrid/flexible working environment.

Currently, our team is I am an estate agency owner/
business partner
I work in rental administration I'm a rental agent Overall
At the office full-time 31.7% 68.3% 42.1% 47.9%
Hybrid/flexible 41.6% 17.8% 38.9% 32.3%
Working remotely 26.7% 13.9% 18.9% 19.8%

Job description plays an important factor in the location of the workforce.

Rental administration staff were most likely to be back at the office full-time: 68.3%. By contrast, the estate agency owner/business partner was more likely to practise hybrid/flexible working (41.6%) or work remotely (26.7%).

A lady and a gentleman having a discussion in-front of a laptop in the office

Setting priorities

What is your agency's
main priority at the moment?

  A bar graph illustrating the main priorities of the agency at the moment. Signing more landlords is reported as the main priority by 44.3% of respondents. Improving the customer experience is mentioned by 16.1% of respondents. Adding new revenue-generating services is reported as a priority by 11.2% of respondents. Reducing administration time is mentioned by 11.2% of respondents. Increasing revenue from existing services is reported as a priority by 9.5% of respondents. Increasing compliance is mentioned by 3.7% of respondents. Other priorities are reported by 4.1% of respondents.

As indicated earlier, 47.7% of respondents reported that landlords are selling their properties, so it is no surprise that estate agencies have prioritised signing more landlords as their number one aim for 2023.

Next, respondents were asked to name the most challenging part of the rental process in their business.

What is the most challenging part
of the rental process in your business?

  A bar graph representing the most challenging parts of the rental process in the business. Finding quality tenants is reported as the most challenging part by 29.1% of respondents. Finding new rental properties is mentioned by 25.2% of respondents. Inspections and maintenance are reported as challenging by 17.4% of respondents. Managing tenant arrears is mentioned by 15.4% of respondents.

Interestingly, inspections and maintenance overtook managing tenant arrears which was in third place in 2021, even though almost half of our respondents reported that arrears were higher than usual.

Fundamentally, building a property rental portfolio boils down to securing rental properties and placing quality tenants. More than half of our survey respondents consider these two activities to be their biggest business challenges.

Respondents were also asked to select up to five concerns going into 2023.

Which of the following things are you
concerned about going into 2023?

Pie chart depicting the concerns going into 2023. The top concern is portfolio growth, mentioned by 51.9% of respondents. Finding quality tenants is also a significant concern, reported by 51.1% of respondents. Managing arrears is a concern for 38.8% of respondents. Profitability is a concern for 36.0% of respondents. Other concerns include persistent high inflation (30.8%), increasing interest rates (26.0%), landlord retention (25.3%), new regulations (20.4%), subdued rental prices (19.5%), competition (14.4%), and finding competent employees (12.8%).

Just over half (51.9%) highlighted ‘portfolio growth’. Finding quality tenants was also a concern for over half of the respondents.

Commission and other revenue

With portfolio growth top of mind for half of respondents, 36% of property professionals are concerned with profitability.

This year PayProp is excited to share our inaugural State of the Rental Industry survey results around commission and other revenue-generating services. The reality of diminishing returns from property investments shows up loud and clear in our survey: one in two estate agencies report having negotiated lower commissions to retain landlords.

Have you lowered your commission due to cost pressures to keep a landlord as a client?






Management commission is the annuity revenue that every residential rental business banks on to roll in monthly, but retaining landlords and the ability to collect rent and fill vacancies all factor into that. Among our respondents, 96.7% of respondents charge a percentage fee, and only 3.3% a fixed Rand amount. The market average for management commission is 10% (charged by 60.5% of respondents), but some rental agencies charge as little as 5%, and some as high as 15%.

However, it would be wrong to be misled by pure analytics, as the numbers are not indicative of specific mandates and service level agreements. Some rental agents only collect the rent, while others require the estate agent to collect the rent, pay and manage the property expenses and provide maintenance. Others still are full-service, including reporting on asset management of the property as well.

Procurement commission

Procurement commission is the upfront charge levied by rental agencies to find and place tenants. It is interesting to note that only 57.8% of estate agents who manage a property charge a procurement commission. This is arguably the most labour- and cost-intensive component of an agent’s mandate.

Finding a tenant includes marketing costs, time-intensive property viewings, tenant vetting, and the cost and time to prepare and sign a lease agreement.

Procurement commission charged

Pie chart depicting the types of procurement commission charged. The majority, 62.3% of respondents, charge a percentage as the procurement commission. One month's rent is charged by 14.1% of respondents. A half month's rent is charged by 1.4% of respondents, and a specific Rand amount is charged by 22.2% of respondents.

Responses from participants who have a job other than business owner, rental agent or administrator are excluded.

For the 57.8% of property practitioners who charge a procurement commission, there are three preferred commission structures: the first month’s rent, a percentage of the monthly rental, or a fixed flat fee.

14.1% of estate agents prefer to charge one month’s rent, and another 1.4% charge half a month’s rent

62.3% of estate agents prefer to charge a percentage of the monthly rent

22.2% of estate agents prefer to charge a fixed flat fee

Our survey results show a typical range between 5% and 10% for upfront procurement commission, with a few outliers where property practitioners charge as little as 1-2% or as much as 13-17%. The preferred procurement commission according to those surveyed is 8%, with 10% the second most common percentage.

One-off upfront procurement commission charged as a fixed flat fee ranges between just R100 and as much as R7 000. The most common fee is R1 000, charged by 20% of respondents.

Lease fee

I charge an average initial lease fee/admin fee of:

Pie chart showing the distribution of average initial lease fees/admin fees charged. The majority, 30.2% of respondents, charge between R750 and R999. R1,000 to R1,249 is charged by 29.7% of respondents. R1,500 to R1,999 is charged by 10.8% of respondents. R500 to R749 is charged by 11.1% of respondents. Less than R500 is charged by 6.8% of respondents. Less than R2,000 is charged by 3.3% of respondents. R1,250 to R1,499 is charged by 8.0% of respondents.

Initial lease fee split

Pie chart showing the distribution of initial lease fee amounts. The majority, 30.2% of respondents, charge between R750 and R999 as an initial lease fee. R1,000 to R1,249 is charged by 29.7% of respondents. R1,500 to R1,999 is charged by 10.8% of respondents. R500 to R749 is charged by 11.1% of respondents. Less than R500 is charged by 6.8% of respondents. Less than R2,000 is charged by 3.3% of respondents. R1,250 to R1,499 is charged by 8.0% of respondents.

The administrative cost of signing a lease agreement can add up. Nearly all property practitioners (95.5%) recover these costs by charging an upfront lease fee. In nearly all circumstances (87.9%) the initial fee is charged to the tenant. 

At the extremes some agencies are charging lease fees as low as R250 while others go as high as R5 000, but the majority (60%) charge between R750 and R1 250.

Inspection fees

Stacked bar chart showing the distribution of initial lease fee amounts for incoming and outgoing tenants. The chart is divided into categories based on the fee ranges. For incoming tenants, the percentage breakdown is as follows: less than R500 (4.4%), R200-R299 (16.5%), R300-R399 (20.9%), R400-R499 (29.7%), R500-R999 (20.3%), and R1,000+ (8.2%). For outgoing tenants, the percentage breakdown is as follows: less than R500 (6.1%), R200-R299 (19.1%), R300-R399 (21.4%), R400-R499 (21.4%), R500-R999 (27.6%), and R1,000+ (3.6%).

The Rental Housing Act requires that joint incoming and outgoing inspections be performed with the tenant. The purpose of this regulatory requirement is to protect the tenant’s damage deposit from being applied to wear and tear or to items which were never originally recorded as damaged at the start of the lease term, because no incoming inspection was performed.

Joint inspections are labour-intensive, time-sensitive and legally required of the landlord, with most landlords outsourcing this service to the property practitioner. 26.7% of property practitioners charge an incoming inspection fee and 31.2% charge an outgoing fee. Most pass the outgoing inspection fee on to the tenant and deduct it from the deposit.

Driving profit in your rental business

How would you increase profit in your agency?

Pie chart showing the strategies to increase profit in the agency. The chart is divided into slices representing different strategies. The percentage breakdown is as follows: Increase the number of managed rentals (73.5%), Use property technology to increase productivity (7.9%), Increase the number of procurements (6.5%), Offer additional services and products (4.8%), Increase management fees (4.3%), Reduce the use of technology to save on costs (1.3%), Reduce office space (1.0%), and Reduce staff to increase the bottom line (0.6%).

We asked respondents how they intended to increase profit in their business if they were to choose only one option. The most frequently given answer was by increasing the number of managed rentals in their portfolio, a clear statement that profitability is driven by growth in a managed rental portfolio.

Another technique agents are using is simplifying their time-intensive admin processes. At PayProp we are excited about our track record as a FinTech platform that helps our new clients grow by an average of 29% in their first 12 months with us.

As the survey results show, many property professionals are focused on sourcing new properties to rent, and marketing these properties to prospective tenants.

Using the right technology can significantly bolster both these activities. It could also potentially help you to attract and retain quality property professionals in your real estate business. Our results show that the average size of managed rental portfolios run by PayProp clients is larger than those of non-PayProp clients.

At PayProp, we believe there is no better way to scale a business and retain the finest property professionals than through technology which automates business processes, thereby freeing up time for your team to be on the road, securing new landlords and tenants. In fact, PayProp can proudly say our new clients on average enjoy 29% growth in their first 12 months.

Buying and selling agencies

Have you considered
buying another agency?





Have you considered
selling your agency?





One of the easiest ways to scale quickly is to buy a rental book or business.

Last year’s market dynamic of 'willing buyer, willing seller' has resulted in 10.3% of respondents confirming that they have bought another agency in that year. Confidence is slowly returning to the real estate sector as the number of respondents who considered selling their agency has halved from 22.0% in 2021 to 9.24% in 2022.

How optimistic are you about
the future of the rental industry?







Finally, real estate professionals continue to show resilience, with almost 80% of respondents expressing optimism for the future of the rental industry.

A lady and two gentlemen looking at a bar graph on a laptop screen with their notebooks and an ipad on the desk


Real estate is a full-time commitment, but also an unsung one.

Property managers are on call 24/7, and yet nothing in the job description or mandate fully articulates this ‘always available’ dedication. You are the person your clients turn to in their hour of need. Tenants and landlords, often constrained by their own full-time employment, prefer after-hours or weekend viewings. And emergencies like burst geysers always seem to wait until 5pm to report themselves, while maintenance has no time schedule.

A career in real estate is often described as an accidental choice, and those property professionals who make a commitment to this life are the true champions of the profession. When fully rewarded for their services and confident of trading conditions, as our survey shows, this key role in the SA economy is being given its due.

a group of collegues working together at their desk in an office

Real estate still an attractive option for property professionals

We are therefore happy to report that real estate remains an attractive option for a growing number of registered property professionals. 

PayProp has dedicated nearly two decades to supporting and developing technology to build the financial backbone of thousands of real estate businesses. Our dedication to property professionals’ growth, efficiency and profitability with top-notch technology and market intelligence remains resolute.

Gain access to valuable data and trends from previous years

Download the comprehensive State of the Rental Industry survey results to uncover key findings, industry benchmarks, and expert analysis.