Buying a rental flat or two may have been the go-to investment for many South Africans with a little cash to spare 12 to 15 years ago. Back then, you typically only needed a 10% deposit to buy a property; the bank would fund the balance. Rental yields (annual rental income as a percentage of market value) were fairly attractive, at 7%-10%, and most landlords were assured of a standard annual rental increase of 10%. Vacancies were low, so it was easy to find a new tenant if yours left. It all meant that your investment often started paying for itself in three to five years. Not any more. Today, buy-to-let owners are lucky to get a 5% annual rental increase when leases come up for renewal. And, for the first time in more than a decade, there is an oversupply of rental stock. As a result, many landlords — most notably those in the oversaturated Cape Town market — have had to drop rentals or risk losing tenants. The latest flat rental data from property economists Rode & Associates show...

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