2014 Jul 22 - New Rental Housing Act Will Bring About Changes
Some amendments to the Rental Housing Act will mean every
property lease has to be in writing and correctly drafted says Colin Fibiger, CEO of Property Network.
'This alone is a major departure from the current act, which states
that a lease only needs to be in writing if the tenant requires it. This
has led to many thousands of tenants and landlords, especially in
informal housing settlements, living without any sort of legal document
stipulating what their respective rights and responsibilities may be.
'However, most landlords don't have the know-how to draft a compliant
lease, nor the time to handle the many other administrative tasks
imposed by the Rental Housing Act. These include issuing detailed
receipts for every payment made by the tenant, the management of
tenants' deposits and provision of proof of the interest earned on these
deposits as well as receipts for damages repaired, and the organisation
and documentation of inspections every time a tenant moves in or out.'
The Rental Housing Amendment Bill, to be enacted later this year,
will make it mandatory for landlords to provide tenants and their
households with safe, weatherproof accommodation of adequate size; to
keep the property in a state of good repair and, where possible 'to
facilitate the provision of utilities to the property'.
Fibiger says this clause is intended to prevent people letting
backyard structures that violate regulations, but it also applies to
landlords in the formal sector and holds the potential for serious
disputes if their tenants and properties are not regularly monitored.
He says the new law will make it mandatory for local authorities to
establish a rental housing information office, and for every province to
establish a rental housing tribunal, as opposed to the current
arrangement where this function is left to the provinces to decide.
'This will give many more landlords and tenants access to impartial
advice and assistance when it comes to resolving disputes. This is in
line with the Department of Human Settlements' stated objectives in
introducing the new legislation, which is to create a 'fair and
equitable' rental housing landscape for an estimated 2.5 million to
three million households that rent their primary accommodation, and
'But much as we applaud this objective, increased regulation of the
rental property market will result in an increased administrative and
managerial burden that will largely fall on landlords, and many more are
likely to fall foul of the law as a result unless they engage
professional assistance," says Fibiger.
"Additionally, the existence of backyard shacks is an economic reality
that caters for the marginilised segments of society and any attempts
to legislate them out of existence is simply removing a roof over
someones head'" he says. "We need to be careful of the continuing trend
in SA of legislating for a first world scenario and failing to consider
the realities of the South African situation."
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