Many South Africans find themselves as a party to a lease agreement, being either the tenant or the landlord.
Too often than not, these lease agreements come to a clashing end, where one of the respective parties, or sometimes both, feel aggrieved and wishes to pursue legal remedies. The most common of these events are the institution of action for damages by the landlord against the “horrific” tenant.
The law relating to housing rental agreements prescribe various duties on the part of the landlord, before he/she will be entitled to claim any damages in such situations. The landlord’s failure to comply with the relevant provisions would result in him/her not being able to claim damages from the tenant and have to bare the financial loss, caused by the tenant.
A few of the obligations prescribed are:
• The duty to invest the deposit in an interest-bearing account;
• The duty to convene a pre-occupancy inspection with the tenant, and record any defects in writing;
• The duty to convene a post-occupancy inspection with the tenant at least three days prior to the departure of the tenant, and compare such written list of defects with the pre-occupancy defects
• The duty to provide the tenant with written receipt of any payments received.
It is within the best interests of any landlord to familiarise themselves with the relevant legislation. Advice from a Legal Practitioner, or a reliable lease agreement drafted by a Legal Practitioner, could save a landlord thousands of rand in damages, which would not be claimable from the tenant and as well as potential legal costs.
Written by H Steynberg
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