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Residential Property Landlords - The Dos and Don'ts According to the Rental Housing Act

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Residential Property Landlords - The Dos and Don'ts According to the Rental Housing Act

In South Africa, the Rental Housing Act lays out important dos and don'ts for landlords. By adhering to these guidelines, landlords can maintain positive, lawful relationships with tenants, ensuring a fair and transparent renting experience for all parties involved.

Landlords play a crucial role in providing safe and comfortable homes for tenants. In South Africa, the Rental Housing Act ("the Act") provides guidance on the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants. Understanding the provisions of this Act is essential for landlords to maintain a positive and lawful landlord-tenant relationship. Here are some dos and don'ts for landlords based on the Act:

Dos:

Provide written receipts: The Act requires landlords to provide tenants with written receipts for all payments received. These receipts should include the address, description of the residence, the purpose of payment (e.g., rent, arrears, deposit), and the payment period.

Invest tenant deposits: Landlords are required to place tenant deposits in an interest-bearing account with a financial institution. The interest rate must be at least equal to that of a savings account with a financial institution.

Inspect the residence with tenants: Before a tenant moves in, conduct a joint inspection of the residence to identify any pre-existing defects or damages. This inspection helps determine the landlord's responsibility for repairs.

Arrange a joint inspection upon lease expiry: Schedule a date and time to do a joint outgoing inspection with your tenants. The agreed appointment should be within three days before the lease ends, to assess any damages that occurred during their occupancy. 

Return deposits timely: If the tenant has fulfilled all lease obligations, return the deposit and accrued interest within 14 days of the restoration of the property to the landlord.

Keep records: Maintain records of costs incurred for repairs or damages. These receipts should be available for the tenant to inspect as proof of expenses deducted from the deposit.

Adhere to lease provisions: Ensure that the terms of the lease are followed by both parties and do not waive the standard provisions outlined in the Act.

Include required information in lease agreements: In lease agreements, include details such as the names and addresses of both parties, a description of the residence, rental amounts and escalation, deposit information, the lease period, and obligations for both the tenant and landlord. If the parties enter into a verbal lease agreement, the landlord is obliged to reduce it to writing upon request of the tenants. 

Don'ts:


Don't delay inspections: Neglecting to inspect the residence with the tenant upon lease commencement or termination can be detrimental. It may be viewed as an acknowledgement that the residence is in good condition, which could hinder any future claims. Should the tenant refuse to respond to the landlord's request to conduct an inspection, the landlord should inspect the property within seven days after the expiration of the lease agreement to assess any damage or loss which occurred during the tenancy. 

Don't deduct costs arbitrarily: Deducting costs from the deposit for repairs without evidence can lead to disputes. The Act requires that costs be proven to the tenant.

Don't overcharge: Charging tenants for expenses related to the contract of lease without factual expenditure is prohibited by the Act.

Don't waive standard provisions: The standard provisions in the Act should not be waived by either the landlord or tenant, as these are in place to protect both parties.

Don't ignore house rules: If there are house rules applicable to the residence, provide the tenant with a copy as an annexure to the lease agreement.

Don't delay deposit refunds: Failure to refund deposits and accrued interest within the stipulated timeframe can lead to conflicts with tenants.

Don't leave the lease agreement to expire: If a tenant remains in the residence beyond the lease expiration date with the landlord's expressed or implied consent, the parties are deemed to have entered into a periodic lease unless a new written lease is established. Either party can give notice of at least one month to the other party to terminate the lease. It may be more secure to enter into a new lease agreement for a fixed period.

The Act aims to ensure fairness and transparency in landlord-tenant relationships. By adhering to its provisions, landlords can create a positive renting experience while safeguarding their rights and those of their tenants. Landlords need to familiarise themselves with the Act, uphold their obligations, and respect their tenants' rights, as outlined in the Act. Ultimately, compliance with the Act is the key to maintaining harmonious and lawful landlord-tenant relationships.
 

Author Darryl Gantana (Miller Bosman Le Roux Attorneys)
Published 24 Nov 2023 / Views -
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