LANDLORDS - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
MUST I SIGN A LEASE WITH MY TENANT?
A verbal agreement is as binding as a written
lease, but if your tenant insists on having something in writing, you must
comply. It is, however, better for both of you to have your agreement in
writing to set out the terms and conditions agreed upon. This will go a long
way to preventing later disputes, when it is your word against your tenant's.
WHAT SHOULD BE CONTAINED IN THE LEASE AGREEMENT?
- Your name
- Your tenant's name
- Your postal address
- Your tenant's postal address
- The address of the property being
- The amount for which you will
rent it out
- The amount by which the rent will
increase (for example, by 10 percent when renewing the lease)
- When the rent will increase (for example,
if there is a rates increase)
- How often rent is to be paid,
(for example, monthly)
- The amount of the deposit, if any
- Your and your tenant's
obligations (for example, who is responsible for maintenance? Who will pay the
water, electricity and rates bills? Usually, the tenant pays for charges
related to consumption, such as water and electricity, and the landlord pays
for charges related to the property, such as rates.)
- The conditions under which either
you or your tenant can give notice to cancel the contract (for example, if
specific maintenance is not done, or if the tenant is in arrears with the rent)
- The House rules, signed by both
parties, should be attached to the lease.
- A list of defects drawn up during a joint inspection
when the tenant moves in. This should be signed by both you and your tenant and
attached to the lease.
WHAT BACKGROUND CHECKS SHOULD I DO?
Speak to the tenant's current
landlord for a reference. It's also a good idea to speak to previous landlords,
as the current landlord may give a good reference as a way to get rid of an
unwanted tenant, and to get a letter from your tenant's employer to verify his
permanent position and income.
You can also do an ITC credit check (call TransUnion
ITC on 0861 482 482 or visit www.transunionitc.co.za).
is probably one of the core reasons for using a credible agency. We for
instance, obtain TPN reports which specifically provides a report on
tenancy history. In addition, we obtain full Credit Bureau checks and
on top of that, Detailed Credit Information which allows us to properly
analyse the clients credit worthiness.
The latter report is extremely valuable, when for instance a client has
arrears but historically has always paid their rent on time. This means
they are pretty good tenants who take theri rentals seriously and only
default on clothing accounts etc.
WHAT DEPOSIT CAN I ASK FROM A TENANT?
In short, you may ask whatever
deposit you see fit but keep in mind that the higher the deposit, the
fewer people can afford it. Property network works on a credit
asessment criteria i.e higher risk tenants are asked for higher
Remember that the deposit must be put in an interest-bearing
account for the duration of the lease and given back to your tenant,
interest it has earned, when the tenant moves out. If rented out
through an agency this will be handled by them an dthe interest does
not have to be paid over to the tenant unless so specified in the lease.
If, however, your tenant still owes you money on
moving out, or if the property has been damaged beyond normal wear and tear,
you can use the deposit to pay for repairs or to cover the money owed to you
CAN I INCREASE THE RENT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LEASE?
Not unless your lease agreement specifically
says you can. If you want, you can add a clause such as those in the Property Network standard lease,
listing specific reasons that would allow you to increase the rent (for
example, if the rates increase).
MUST I SIGN ALL DOCUMENTS OR CAN MY AGENT DO SO?
Once you have mandated your agent,
they can sign the lease, inspections and all other documents on your
behalf. The Rental Housing Act specifically speaks of "the landlord or
their appointed agent".
TENANT CLAIMS RENT HAS BEEN PAID BUT I HAVEN'T RECEIVED IT?
It is your tenant's
responsibility to make sure that you receive the rent, so your tenant will have
to show you proof of payment (for example, a bank-deposit slip). If your tenant
can't do so, you can give your tenant notice in terms of your agreement and
seek a court order for eviction.
If you are satisfied that payment
has, indeed, been made, you are then obliged in terms of the Rental Housing Act (Act 50 of 1999) to
provide you tenant with a receipt.
A receipt must contain the
- The date of issue
- The address of the property for which
the payment is made
- The reason for the payment
(whether it's rental, arrears or a deposit)
- The period of the payment (for example, the month for
which the rent will be paid).
LEASE EXPIRED A FEW MONTHS AGO - WHAT NOTICE DO I HAVE TO GIVE NOW?
Check your previous lease for a
renewal clause that outlines how much notice you must give in such a situation.
If there is no such clause, then
the two of you have, through your actions, effectively renewed the previous
lease, on the same terms and conditions, and for the full period stated in the
original agreement. This means that you will have to invoke the cancellation
clause of the original lease, if there is one, in order to get out of the
Without a cancellation clause, the best way to get out
of the contract would have been to give your tenant one month's notice, in
writing, before the lease expired. (So if you were nearing the end of a
12-month lease, you should have let your tenant know, in writing, at the end of
the eleventh month.)
WHAT CAN I DO IF MY TENANT DISTURBS THE NEIGHBOURS?
Check if the tenant's behaviour is in violation
of the House rules. If so, you may be able to invoke your lease's cancellation
clause and give your tenant notice. Keep a paper trail of complaints and your
actions as proof.
If not in a complex and no house rules available, then your neighbours
must lay a complaint with the local council or police depending on the
problem. Make sure case numbers and other paperwork is kept to assist
you in invoking your cancellation clauses.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I THINK THE TENANT IS INVOLVED IN ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES?
Report your suspicions to South African Police
Services. It is also a good idea to add a clause to your lease, such as those in Property Network leases, stating that no
illegal activities are to be conducted on the property, which would give you
grounds to cancel the lease immediately.
Do remember that you may not cancel the lease, purely on a suspicion.
WHAT CAN I DO IF THE TENANT HAS DAMAGED THE PROPERTY?
If you asked for a deposit, you
can use the money to repair damages attributed to the tenant beyond normal wear
and tear when the tenant moves out. Be sure to follow these steps:
Contact the Rental Housing
Tribunal if you have problems.
- When your tenant moves in,
inspect the property together and list, in writing, any existing defects - both
should sign this and it must be attached to the lease agreement.
- When your tenant moves out,
inspect the property together again, ideally no earlier than three days before
the tenant moves out. Compare the new list of defects with the list you made
- You may give the tenant a chance
to do the repairs personally, or you can agree that you will do it. Hold on to
receipts for repairs paid for out of the deposit. Your former tenant has a
right to see them.
- If repairs cost less than the
deposit plus the interest accrued, you will have to reimburse your former
tenant with the difference.
WHAT LAWS GOVERN RENTALS IN SOUTH AFRICA?
Rental Housing Act 50 of 1999
Rental Housing Amendment Act 43 of 2007
Rental Housing Amendment Act 35 of 2014 (not yet applicable but due to come into effect 2015)
Prevention of Illegal Eviction Act of 1998
Estate Agency Affiars Act 1997 - if using an agency
Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008
Financial Intelligence Centre Act 38 of 2001
Social Housing Act 16 of 2008 - if applicable
SARS Tax Laws as applicable
you have any further questions, why not contact us
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