The Case for National Database Towards Sustainable Property Management in Zimbabwe

The Case for National Database Towards Sustainable Property Management in Zimbabwe

In a depressed economy such as Zimbabwe, many industries normally encounter operational challenges (Mangudhla, 2016). As such stakeholder in the industry also struggle to operate even at break-even point (Mangudhla, 2016). In Zimbabwe, though with little documentation, it has been observed by the public that from the period 2013 going forward, that the economic conditions started to deteriorate leading to underperformance of the property sector (Mangudhla, 2016). Further, the economic environment that is characterised by recession has resulted in a low demand for rental space and ultimately reduced rental incomes. This is evident from the lowering of rental yield from 8% in the last year to 7%. Likewise occupancy rates of commercial properties decreased from 85% to 82% during the same period (Mudehwe, Chirisa, and Matamanda, 2016).


With the existing background, the present study seeks to clearly conscientise all the stakeholders in a property investment about the existence of tenants who move from building to the other owned by different property owners to rent out space. The rental will only be for a temporary period of time after which the tenant will then migrate to the next premises when they have accumulated rentals and building operating costs such as cleaning, water and electricity charges. The migration to the new premises will be motivated by the need to avoid paying commission and rentals due to the property manager and the landlord respectively. By running away from paying rentals, the tenants will remain in business just because they are successful in running away from operating costs. In other words, tenants will be continue to operate as a result of creating savings by avoiding to pay operating costs of rentals.

A practical solution to improve the practise of property management in Zimbabwe seeks for the establishment of a permanent solution that can help property owners and management agents to keep track of potential new clients and existing tenants. A general proposition made by the research is that if an information technology system in the form of a national database for all the existing tenants is used by all property managers to keep track of all the tenants, it may make it difficult for tenants to escape the obligation to pay rentals when they fall due. The first section of this book chapter basically introduced the entire study to be mainly anchored on property management challenges. The background and context section zeros more on describing the challenges of property management from the period when Zimbabwe gained her independence in 1980 to 2016 posturing debate on its economic performance in the period under review. The theoretical framework section, introduces the theory underpinning this study which is the agency theory and described its features and how it applies in the study. This chapter will also carry on a review on the existing literature on property management from both the national and international context. Research design and methodology section shows how the researchers collected data, the sampling method used and the justification for using the techniques used. Finally, after carrying the research, results and discussion section shows what was obtained giving a direction for the policy options, recommendations and practical implications section. Finally, the conclusion section gives perception postured by the researchers adopted from the study results that will be aiming at improving the practise of property management in Zimbabwe. To complement this book chapter, the researcher has engaged software developers that are working on creating a model sample of the tenant management software that has been proposed in the chapter. The following section starts to introduce history of tenants and property management in Zimbabwe.

Background and Context
The performance of the real estate property market in Zimbabwe has been unstable since independence in 1980. It has been constantly characterised by fluctuations with the graph slowly changing downwards from the period 1980 – 2016. This can be attributed to government policy inconsistencies which have led to various aspects of the economy continuously changing. Since the year 2000, Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown commenced (Mudehwe, Chirisa and Matamanda, 2016). It was also further observed that the real estate sector from that point never performed to full potential. In the real estate property management industry, the main elements affected included the commercial retail and office leasing space (Mudehwe, Chirisa, and Matamanda, 2016). This is because, the moment when employment decreases in the economy, households’ spending patterns also decrease hence less will be prepared to spend on fancy goods and companies will also relinquish the leasing space to lower their operating costs represented by rental charges. Mushayakarara, (2014) reported that in the commercial property portfolio, most tenants have, in the year 2013, struggled to discharge the lease’s main obligation of paying rental on time (Mudehwe, Chirisa, and Matamanda (2016). Furthermore, asset values in the real estate sector shed off some of the value accumulated since dollarization. The regulator of property management agents, Estate Agency Council of Zimbabwe pointed that the economic depression resulted in the flight of quality tenants in the hyperinflation period prior to the dollarization of the economy in 2009. Generally all these observations shows that the real property industry had been under a serious depression. However, there is consensus that the economic recovery and growth trends since the dollarization of the economy have resulted in property sector boom, particularly in the retail space. Although, speculations on the existence of a boom and recession are there, it can be argued that what has not been clear is how the tenants managed to survive or rather how they are surviving in the difficult trading environment.

Observations have been shown from the laid out background of the practise of property management with its relationship with tenants. It can be generally deducted that difficulties in property management in the depressed economy of Zimbabwe has led to tenants inventing different survival strategies so as to remain in business. Some of the common survival strategies being used by tenants operating businesses include delaying and sometimes even failing to pay wages for their workers. Tenants are also delaying paying suppliers of their stock. In some instances, tenants are also dismissing employees and cutting down salaries. Some desperate tenants are evading the taxman and relinquishing rental space to the property managers. Some businesses on many occasions are moving from building to building so as to run away from a ballooned arrear rentals. The last strategy has motivated the development of this chapter. With all these survival strategies, this chapter concentrated mostly on the main challenges of high arrear rentals in which tenants have been moving from one property to the other running away after accumulating rental arrears and fleecing property owners and property managers. The study was justified so that property managers would be conscientised and would avoid falling prey to unethical tenants who are in practise of going around and fleecing property owners and managers thousands of dollars in unpaid rental arrears; which arrears would be quickly converted to bad debts and written away by the property owners and managers. This study therefore makes a practical contribution in the real estate management industry by advocating for the establishment of a system that can be developed and work as a software for keeping national tenants statistics in the form of a ‘national database’ that will make a mileage in creating a sustainable property management culture in Zimbabwe.

Theoretical Framework
The main theory that underpins this study is the agency theory that was propounded by scholars such as (Ross1973; Eisenhardt 1989; Shapiro 2005). Agency relationships arise from a number of sources that includes the division of labour. Mitnick (1984). For example in this case, property managers are appointed by property owners to lease out space to tenants on their behalf. The structure-agency theory is far more constitutive and complex than the mere interaction between two individuals in society. Giddens (1984) is more realistic in his discourse on the ontological contours of structure-human agency in his treatise “The Constitution of Society”. The agency theory is interested in explaining the relationship that materialises when two parties are working together. Scholars for example Ross, (1973), argue that agency is one of the long standing contractual relations which are old and common and a way of interaction in a society.

Agency is a special relationship in that it is entered into by two or more parties, the first party is regarded the agent and will be responsible for representing and acting on behalf of the other party who is called the principal. The decisions which are made by the agent will bind the principal and often at times, the terms of relationship may be implied or specified in a management contract (Ross, 1973; Shapiro, 2005). The agency theory was propounded by scholars such as Eisenhardt, 1989; Shapiro, 2005). This theory aims to eliminate the two problems in agents and principals relationships. The challenge with the principals on the first problem is that there is no yardstick to measure performance of the agent. Secondly, a problem materialises when both parties that is principal and agent have different insolences pertaining risks of the business. Agency theory therefore tries to resolve and minimise these two problems. Since the purpose of this study is anchored on the management of real estate by property managers acting as agents of the owners, the agency theory should be encompassed as the proposed system will be a measure that is meant to improve effectiveness of property managers hence reducing principal-agents problems in the agency theory.

Literature Review
With the theory underpinning this study, one can argue that although agents act on behalf of the property owners, the tenants are taking advantage due to negligence of the agents in carrying on a background check on all prospective tenants. Failure to be carrying out the checks is leading to tenants accumulate rental arrears in many properties. At the end of the day, the property owner suffers largely since they are failing to realise the expected rentals. The agency theory and its problems will eventually escalates. Generally it can be agreed that whenever two parties, one being the principal and the other being the agent, conduct business in which the agent will be acting for the principal, the agency relationship will be established (Ross, 1973). A macroscopic investigation into the matter can show that all the problems created by agency problems could just be avoided if agents formulate a tenant database system that contains history and information on all the tenants and their previous rentals which would enable property managers in carrying out deep investigations when issuing out rental space. The agency doctrine defines the legal obligations that principals have with the third part for actions that agents take on their behalf (DeMott, 1998). For example, the principal can enter into a bounding contract with the agent and this contract will have a positive impact on the principal if the agent represents, or act on behalf of the principal in a manner that destroys both the image and reputation of the principal (DeMott, 1998).

Agency relationships arise from a number of sources that includes the division of labour (Mitnick, 1984). For example, there are property investors such as pension funds like National Railways of Zimbabwe Pension Fund and this organisations has a main mandate to pay pension benefits to members when they retire. However these organisations have made significant investments in commercial real estate properties around the country. The pension fund cannot directly engage in the management of their entire commercial real estate properties so they can engage a renowned property manager or agent such as Knight Frank to help in the management of their real estate assets. This is when an agency relationship would have been created. It has been observed that humans do not have time to do everything they need and also other complex tasks often require more than one actor (Mitnick, 1984). Mitnick (1984) termed the division of labour to be called practical or structural agency. Furthermore, Mitnick (1984) has noted that agency relationships arise from the acquisition of expertise or access to specialized knowledge and he labelled this content full agency. Agency relationships also arise from the bridging of physical, social and temporal distance. Lastly, agency relationships also materialise when parties amalgamate in a bid to enjoy benefits of operating collectively for example economies of scale and a great minimisation of risks. This is referred to as systemic or collective agency (Mitnick, 1984). This is evidenced when the property manager on its own amalgamates various properties owned by several firms and starts to manage them internally for a commission.

The agency theory is concerned with resolving two problems explained above that can occur in agency relationships. This special relationship needs control since problems can easily be created. Two problems exist, first being the problem when the principal cannot account for the productiveness or usefulness of his agent thus the principal will not be able to account on what his agent was doing in relation to the specifications of their management contract (Eisenhardt, 1989; Shapiro, 2005). Secondly, when both parties have different attitudes and behaviours towards risk, a problem materialises (Eisenhardt, 1989; Shapiro, 2005). Apart from the principal-agency problems, the principal’s control should be exercised effectively on the agents because when agents are empowered to act on behalf of the principal, they might engage in activities that leaves the third parties at loss of which the principal would be expected to reimburse the third parties and claim damages from the agent (Shapiro, 2005). This calls for supervision of the agents by the principals. These reasons altogether call for special arrangements to be made in-order to ensure that the principal-agent problems are always under control. Although principal-agent problems have been proved to exist by sociologists for example (Shapiro, 2005), many a time principals and their agents carry same interests. Agents are more likely to be even or honest when entrusted with responsibilities.

The main problem experienced in this regard is between the property manager who are the agents and the property owner who is the principal. The problem is experienced because of the first principal-agent problem as it is becoming difficult for the principal to believe that the agent is representing him well since he is failing to collect rentals from the tenants and also since many of the tenants are managing to run away. When accrued arrear rentals are converted to bad debts, it is the principal who gets to suffer more in operating costs and unpaid rentals that represent a return to the investor. This therefore has created a main challenge between the principals who are property owners and the agents who are property managers all attributed to the lack of willingness of tenants to pay their rental as they fall due. With these tensions, this study qualifies to be underpinned by the agency theory as it possesses similarities as shown by disputes between property owners and managers as a result of underperformance in collection of rentals from tenants.

Research Design and Methodology
The research objective of this study involve finding out if alternative measures can be taken by property managers to correct the mishap in property management. The question underpinning this study is why tenants are escaping rental obligations and must be done to stop the development. The study clearly needed the perspectives of tenants running away from property owners and the rationale behind that move. The approach used included consultations from main stakeholders in property management. Two main groups of tenants exists and these range from residential and commercial groups. This study is mainly interested in commercial tenants. This group normally rents out space for income generating activities such as use for a shop, an office or retail space. Total tenants in Zimbabwe are estimated to be over one million. The researcher only managed to administer 50 (fifty) questionnaires to tenants because of inadequate financial resources and time constrains. Stakeholders in property industry such as landlords, managing agents and estate agents council members answered questions following an interview guide that was created by the researcher. The entire study created quantitative and qualitative responses and data. The quantitative data was analysed using figures and tables in the results sections while the qualitative data was analysed textually and thematically. The art of real estate management is encompassing, therefore several stakeholders contributed in the study so that the chapter could have an intimate appreciation of true matters on the ground. Three main stakeholders were interviewed. The stakeholders included the property managers, the property owners and the tenants. The move to consult all the stakeholders was initiated by the need to get perspectives and perceptions postured by the parties in a real estate management agreement. The researcher mainly needed to establish the viewpoint of property managers and reaction when the tenants with very large rental arrears moved from the premises without the managers having to initiate for an eviction order. This was important as it formed the base of the entire study.

The researcher enquired from agents if it was indeed true that sometimes tenants with large rental arrears could silently move away from the premises. After moving away, researcher also established if tenants relocated to new premises. And if true, what were the steps taken by the property owners and managers to mediate and deal with the cases. Finally, from the tenants the researcher wanted to identify tenants who move from premises to premises after accumulating significant arrears. However, only tenants operating small businesses could admit that so the researcher ended up administering a questionnaire to general tenants and asked them to response assuming that they had significant rental arrears. To blend the responses obtained from the stakeholders directly involved in the management contracts and leasing of space, the researcher also inquired from board members of the real estate industry regulator Real Estate Institute of Zimbabwe (REIZ). Tools used for the purposes of data collection were interviews and questionnaires. The researcher however maintained high ethical considerations and did not name any of the respondents in the chapter. Challenges were mainly faced in identifying tenants who run from premises to premises and leave when they have accumulated arrears. Generally, with the employed research design and methodology, the researcher knows that the obtained data, when interpreted correctly could become useful and important in the advancement of the real estate management practise in Zimbabwe and also in other developing countries who are also facing challenges in their real estate industries.

Results and Discussion
This section brings about the main thrust of this study. The section contains four main subsections. The subsections include input from tenants, landlords, the property managers and lastly the Estate Agents Council. Basically these subsections give a summary of the main findings that were obtained at the data collection stage. The data represents the results that were obtained from the research. The researcher presented the data as it was originally intended and no alterations whatsoever were made by the researcher. The errors in laying down results or even from the data collection stage will remain the responsibility of the researcher. Through support for shared knowledge and learning, the researcher presents what was obtained to get the practical aspect of this study.

Perspectives of Tenants
A total of 50 tenants engaged in different trades managed to complete their questionnaires. These trades ranged from small phone accessories shops, boutiques, office space, food outlets and hair saloons shops. The following figure 1 shows the rate of completion to the administered. Initially, it was targeted that each group of tenants was expected to complete 10 questionnaires. However because of difficulties in locating tenants caused by mobility, different groups ended up completing more and some less that the initially allocated 10 questionnaires. All the tenants who completed the questionnaires are based in Harare and operate at various building selected purposively throughout the Harare Central Business District.

Figure 1: Respondents and Business Nature (Source: Field Findings, 2017)

• Phone Accessories Shops
Further, 28% representing 14 operators who responded included those who operate phone accessories shops. This group highlighted that they are mostly interested in operating on strategic positions that are able to attract much traffic so that their phone accessories could be able to push more volumes. Most of the tenants occupy the down town part of the CBD where bus termini generates traffic of people. 93 percent of the interviewed tenants who carry business of selling phone accessories did not have registered companies and they did not pay any returns to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA). When asked about their views towards high rentals and issue of rental arrears, 21% of this group of operators noted that the sales they make in rented premises are inadequate to meet all the business expenses so they sometimes resort to extending opening hours, set up some selling points even in streets and underselling some competitors so that they can meet break-even point. Of this group, 57% admitted that surely, they sometimes leave a rented premises when they note that the arrear rentals have ballooned and move to other new rented premises. Generally, this was the main interest of the researcher and it was clear that generally tenants involved in selling phone accessories can easily move to new premises since their business is small and can operate anywhere since the clientele they serve can be obtained in nearly every street corner.

• Boutiques
13 tenants selling fashioned clothes have stormed nearly all the street in Harare Central Business District. Of the total tenants that were consulted, those involved in selling clothes represented 26% of all the tenants who completed the questionnaires. Of the total boutiques operators who were interviewed, 77% were registered companies that were contributing returns in the form of PAYE (pay as you earn) and tax returns to the tax collector, ZIMRA. Since many of these operators represents a significant number of tenants in the Central Business District, it can generally be agreed that their business is performing well. The questionnaire completed by this group proved that despite having a viable business plan, the team is suffering high space costs from property managers and property owners. The boutiques operators argued that the property owners expect them to pay for all the property expenses in regards all the vacant space in upper floors of business which in most instances will be reserved for office use. These operators noted that it was difficult for them to move from premises to premises running away from accumulated rentals because their business was based on reputation and also confidence of the public since on many occasions, their business allowed them to sell goods on lay bye. This therefore meant that generally these tenants cannot easily move away because they consider their clients mostly and also their established relation to the public.

• Office Space
Fourteen percent (14%) representing 7 tenants who completed the questionnaire were tenants at buildings using their rented premises for office business use. Organisations that occupy most of office space are normally registered companies. 57% of these organisations opened that they had ballooned rental arrears and were struggling to keep track with the demanded rentals. These organisations were significantly affected by the difficult economic conditions that were affecting the country. The economic performance was not matching high rental charges in office space. Tenants who occupy office space are registered companies and they are willing to protect their reputation and consistency to continue pursuing business on the same address. Further, tenants noted that it could be too costly to change operating addresses. Managers in the offices noted that the organisations will be expected to reprint stationary which would match their new addresses if they move from premises to premises in a bid to run away from run away from arrear rentals. Besides big reputable organisations that occupy more than 1000 square metres of office space, there are also other smaller offices that are involved in consultancy business in office buildings.

• Food outlets
Fast food outlets shops have remained in business. These have become very necessary since they are providing a necessity good which basically is a good that a human cannot survive without. The tenants interviewed basically form 12% representing 6 tenants of the entire population of the tenants that were interviewed. Although this figure is generally low, the responses that were obtained generally represents an intimate appreciation of the responses mainly noted on the ground. Fifty percent (50%) of interviewed operators who are using the space as food outlets have expressed concerns over high rental charges. The charges were reported to be unsustainable. 66% representing of the operators using rented premises as food outlets noted that because they are selling food which is a necessity for the working class that spends the whole day in town, they are able to make enough sales that are able to cover the basic expenses including the high rentals. The group however pointed that they cannot easily relocate to new premises since they will not easily find a good site to establish their business. It was also noted by the researcher that this business prioritises location since it is the main determinant for them to achieve a higher sales volumes.

• Hair Saloons
As initially expected, the researcher managed to interview the planned 20% representing 10 tenants of the population sample of tenants. These groups of tenants are running their businesses single handed. They sometimes on many occasions group themselves in batches and open up a single shop were each member of the group rents a single chair so as to service clients from. One unique characteristic of this business is that each hair designer usually has contact details of their clients so any change in address, it is easy for the operator to invite their clients to their new trading address. Of the interviewed barbers, 80% admitted that each time they feel that they are being charged unfair rentals, they normally pay the landlord amounts they consider to be current “fair” rents. In the event that their arrear rentals have ballooned, these operators admitted that they simply move to the new premises and leave behind outstanding huge arrear rentals. It is on many occasions difficult for the property managers to keep track of the debt and eventually with time, the agent recommends to the property owner that the debt be treated as bad debts. The following sections detail the results obtained from the other important stakeholders.

Perspectives of the Principals
This group represented the owners of real estate properties throughout Zimbabwe. Property owners range from large pension funds, insurance companies, banks and other individual property firms also including few private individuals. Basically, the property investors owns real estate because they expect a reasonable return so as to make profits and meet their trade obligations. The study revealed that property firms have also been affected by the difficult economic conditions. Most firms highlighted that they have shifted attention from rental collections to other sources for them to continue in existence. Commercial real estate had been underperforming and characterised by very high default and less occupancy rates. This has led to property owners opt to maintain real estate investments as they store in value and also are an effective hedge against inflation. Landlords however noted that for the buildings that are occupied, tenants have accumulated high arrear rentals. The property owners who manage their buildings in-house have reported that they have tried to take legal action against their tenants and in many instances, tenants move away from the properties and leave behind nothing. It had also proved to be fruitless to them even if they appoint debt collectors as some business had accumulated arrear rentals that were larger that the capital structure of the tenant. In many occasions, the property owners pointed that they will be left with an option of taking forgoing rentals and just return real estate assets by writing off the rental arrears.

With the current economic performance, 60% of principals are convinced that their appointed property management agents are trying to bring the best results they can in a depressed economy. For other principals that are managing their properties internally, they noted that it was actually better for them to collect all rentals and avoid leakages represented by paying agent’s commission. To curb the challenges landlords are facing of tenants who run away, 60% of interviewed landlords pointed out that they have employed property managers to administer their real estate assets. This move was as a result of them noting that it was difficult to manage the tenants without proper property management systems and expertise of how to handle ever constant features of management disputes. This was a strategy to make sure that they collect the maximum possible from their real estate investments. Generally with the interviews carried on with the property owners, it yielded that these stakeholders are the ones who suffer most as they would be the one expected to pay operating costs for buildings that are not occupied. They also suffer greatly at the hands of unscrupulous tenants who run away from buildings to buildings trying to avoid paying accumulated arrear rentals to the previous landlords. Overall, this group pointed out that they have employed massive selection criteria each time when they are selecting a tenant to lease their space with. They however opened up that on many occasions, they end up lowering their standards since they would also be willing to let out space and reduce their void levels.

Perspectives of Agents / Property managers
A total of 10 property management firms and agents with different sizes were interviewed by the researcher. The need to interview players with different sizes and experience was initiated by the need to uncover the correct experiences being postured in the industry. The research revealed that property managers are also suffering from the running away by tenants with arrear rentals. Agents are only able to claim their commission from the rentals that would have been paid. This therefore means that if they collect rentals, they can only charge and be rewarded their commission from the money collected. Generally by such an arrangement, agents explained that they are fighting hardly to collect very high amounts so that their income can also significantly improve. Property managers expressed concern and knowledge of the activities being carried out by some unscrupulous tenants who are accumulating rentals and run to the other premises with a bid of defrauding the property managers and property owners of their commission and rentals respectively. A mitigating strategy being employed by agents is that of vetting all tenants before giving them space to rent in the buildings that will be under their management. Further, other managing agents are getting details and surety forms signed by the directors of small companies so that if the company in any case tries to run away with arrear rentals, the property manager will have access to pursue legal action against the directors and the surety of the organisations. Property managers pointed that their job was very difficult as it was encompassing. They aim to collect good rentals at the same time trying to maintain the value of the property. However, many operators were pointing out that the selection strategy has proved to be fruitful since they are only admitting reputable organisations into the premises under their management.

Perspectives of the Estate Agents Council (EAC)
The researcher managed to get in hold of a board member that sits in the panel of EAC board. An interview guide was administered and the member managed to respond giving his own personal opinion and opinions of the Council. The member showed that while he appreciates that the real estate industry was not performing to capacity, the challenges that were faced by property owners and managers in recovering ballooned arrear rentals was a technical challenge on the part of the expect. The member showed that if the practise had good systems that could allow them to keep tract of operations and memberships, some of these challenges would have been avoided. He pointed that the market has a system of self-adjusting pointing out that whenever an anomaly is noticed, it should be seen as an indicator to conscience the policy maker to give attention to the development. Prior to the interview, the researcher had indicated to the informant the purpose of the study. So during the interview, the informant kept on refereeing back to the main thrust of the study that there was actually a need for a database which could be accessed by all registered property managers so that they could use and keep track of the tenants and their past history when issuing out rented spaces. The overall conclusion obtained by the researcher towards perspectives of EAC is that the council is willing to allow developmental innovations that makes the practise of registered property managers easy and more transparent.

Policy Options, Recommendations and Practical Implications
The findings from the study show that tenants are running away from paying rentals, it can generally be concluded that a national database for all the tenants in Zimbabwe is needed. This is also supported as shown in ‘Virtualization-based techniques for enabling multi-tenant management tools’ by Tsai, Ruan, Sahu, Shaikh, and Shin (2007). Further, it can be noted that the system will improve some of the common challenges that are experienced in the practise of real estate management in Zimbabwe. The system that should be created should have particular abilities. Firstly, it should be able to be online and be updated by various users in different geographical locations. This ability makes it unique and easily accessible by all the intended users. Secondly the system should only be used by all the registered estate agents so that tenants should not have access to it because they may alter information. The system should be able to have a high powered database that will keep information of every registered tenant, trading names and names of directors such that when a property manager searchers on a particular clue, the system should be able to show out the full history pertaining to the tenant who user will be enquiring on. This property management system should be able to capture all the relevant particulars of tenants and landlords for example duration of leases so that one can easily know if a particular tenant has a current valid lease with other property owners elsewhere or not.

The proposed and recommended system has proved theoretically to be able to yield massive returns for both the property managers and property owners. Therefore it is important that when the researchers finish developing the system, the industry should be willing to try out the exciting new development which will bring a mileage in property management system. Just as property management firms use property management systems like SAP and MD property manager, there is also need for systems that manage all the tenants in the industry. Unless this system is designed and adopted by all property managers in Zimbabwe, the real estate management industry will continue to have tenants who succeed in defrauding property owners their arrear rentals and still be able to move to other new trading premises without any action being taken upon them.

The study concluded that the property management industry needs to have a national database system that stores all the background and history of tenants. This national database should be accessed and used by all the property managers in Zimbabwe. The national database should have the ability to register all tenants in buildings. Property owners accept to share information about their current tenants so that they can all be entered into the system, this will enable the other property manager to carry on a background check on the tenant the moment they are approached. The national database should be specific in relation to the data it shows for example it should share the details of tenants and also their current and arrear rentals. If the national database can be used and accessible by all property managers, it can become a tool to be used by all property firms as it would be the main source of reference when a tenant is seeking out new rental space. The study has shown that tenants run away from property manager to the next one trying to avoid payment of arrear rentals. With a national database for all the tenants, it will be easier to show one’s accumulated rental arrears hence being a bad record which can only be cleared by updating accounts with the previous landlord.


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