Although a date is yet to be set for the implementation of the looming Rental Housing Amendment Act, many of the proposed changes, including criminal liability for non-compliant landlords, have sparked considerable concern.
However, many property professionals believe that there is little or no cause for concern as long as all parties are well-informed and compliant – and that the amendments could, in fact, have a positive impact on the market and encourage rather than deter investors.
These infringements include:
- Not issuing a written rental agreement– this is a positive development in South African law as it creates more legal certainty for both parties and usually, due to a non-variation clause – cannot be amended orally or unilaterally. It affords the tenant security of tenure, while affording the Landlord proof of an existing agreement, which can be enforced in court;
- Failure to provide a habitable dwelling– a ‘habitable’ condition refers to a dwelling being safe and suitable for living, with adequate space, protection from the elements and the supply of necessary utilities;
- Failure to maintain the property– landlords must maintain building structures and ensure that their rental properties have proper access to basic services;
- Failure to repay the deposit and accrued interest– the responsibility of arranging a joint inspection of the property with the tenant will fall on the landlord. A list of defects to the property must be attached as an annexure to the lease agreement and if a joint inspection is not done at the commencement of the lease, the landlord will not be allowed to withhold a portion of the tenant’s deposit for repairs or damage. Deposits, together with the interest earned, must be paid out to tenants within seven days of the expiration of the lease, subject to deductions for damages;
- Cutting utilities– only the municipality may cut services for non-payment;
- Locking the tenant out of the property– you may not keep a tenant from entering the property without a court order.
- Stricter requirements of service on each occupant for eviction proceeding – it is imperative for the landlord to know at any given time who is occupying the leased premises.
Landlords and tenants will be required to comply with the new requirements within six months from the date of commencement. To ensure that your property and lease is well managed, be sure to work with a reputable and established rental agency.
Article extracts courtesy: Property Professional