TENANTS - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS



Must I sign a lease with my landlord?
What information must be on a written lease?
What background checks will the landlord do?
What deposit can a landord request?
Can the landlord increase the rent in the middle of a lease period?
Must the landlord sign everything or can the agent do so on their behalf?
My lease expired a few months ago. How much notice must I give, if I want to move out?
I want to install a satellite dish or aerial?
I have lost keys or damaged locks?
What laws govern rentals in South Africa?

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MUST I SIGN A LEASE WITH MY TENANT?
 
A verbal agreement is as binding as a written lease, but if you as a tenant insists on having something in writing, the landlord 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 landlord.

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WHAT SHOULD BE CONTAINED IN THE LEASE AGREEMENT?
  • Your name
  • The tenant and landlord full names
  • The tenant and landlord full names
  • The address of the property being leased
  • The amount for which it willbe rented
  • 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 you are in arrears with the rent)
  • The House rules, if in a complex for example, 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 landlord or agent and attached to the lease.
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WHAT BACKGROUND CHECKS WILL THE LANDLORD DO?
 
This obviously depends on agency to agency. Proeprty Network undertakes the following :
  • We speak to the tenant's current landlord for a reference. Sometime also to previous landlords, as the current landlord may give a good reference as a way to get rid of an unwanted tenant
  • We confirm employment position and income
  • We obtain TPN reports which specifically provides a report on tenancy history
  • In addition, we obtain full Credit Bureau checks.
  • On top of that, Detailed Credit Information is obtained, 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 their rentals seriously and only default on clothing accounts etc.
You are entitled to one free crediy check on yourself per year and should perhaps do do prior to application so that if there are any unknown issues, you can have explanations prepared. (call TransUnion ITC on 0861 482 482 or visit www.transunionitc.co.za).

Clients under debt review are catered for by Property Network, provided that their arranged payments are up to date. depending on circumstances, a slightly higher deposit may be required
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WHAT DEPOSIT CAN A LANDLORD ASK?
In short, they may ask whatever deposit they see fit. Property network works on a credit asessment criteria i.e higher risk tenants are asked for higher deposits.Our standard minimum deposit is one and a quater months rent.

Deposit amounts will vary from agency to agency and landlord to landlord.

Remember that if rented privately, the deposit must be put in an interest-bearing account for the duration of the lease and given back to you as the tenant, plus the interest it has earned, when you move out. If rented out through an agency this will be handled by them and the interest does not have to be paid over to the tenant unless so specified in the lease. property Network leases automatically specify the tenant shall receive the interest.

If, however, you still owe you money on moving out, or if the property has been damaged beyond normal wear and tear, the landlord can use the deposit to pay for repairs or to cover the money owed by you

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CAN THE LANDLORD INCREASE THE RENT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LEASE?
 
Not unless your lease agreement specifically says you can. Property Network standard leases, list specific reasons that would allow any increases in the the rent (for example, if the rates increase).

We also as a norm have two smaller increases per year rather than one large one. This provides in our experience a much easier budgeting experience for the tenant

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MUST THE LANDLORD SIGN ALL DOCUMENTS OR CAN THE AGENT DO SO?
 
Once a landlord has mandated their agent, they can sign the lease, inspections and all other documents on the landlords behalf. The Rental Housing Act specifically speaks of "the landlord or their appointed agent".


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LEASE EXPIRED A FEW MONTHS AGO - WHAT NOTICE DO I HAVE TO GIVE NOW?
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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 agreement.

Without a cancellation clause, the best way to get out of the contract would have been to give your landlord 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 landlord know, in writing, at the end of the eleventh month - or whatever other notice period was agreed to.)

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I WANT TO ERECT A SATELLITE DISH OR AERIAL?
 
Check with the landlord or agent first. They will not withold any reasonable approval but might have to check with Body Corporate rules if applicable.

Do remember that any new fixture becomes part of the property and may not be removed by you when you leave unless prior arrangements were made. This applies to any and all alterations and or additions such as gates, braais built etc etc.

Always make sure that you get such authority and agreements in writing.

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I HAVE LOST MY KEYS OR DAMAGED A LOCK?
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Keys and locks are the tenants responsibility and you will have to replace or repair. Agents will not normally hold any spare keys and will not be able to help.
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    WHAT LAWS GOVERN RENTALS IN SOUTH AFRICA?
     
    The Constitution
    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

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    If you have any further questions, why not contact us



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