When entering into a residential agreement of lease it is important to take note of the following requirements set in the Rental Housing Act, Act 50 of 1999:-
- A residential agreement of lease does not need to be in writing.
- If the tenant however requires the lease to be in writing, it is a legal requirement that a written agreement of lease must be prepared.
- A landlord must furnish the tenant with written receipts in respect of all rental payments.
- The landlord may require that the tenant pay a rental deposit. It is important to note that such a deposit must be deposited by the landlord into an interest-bearing account with a financial institution. The interest earned on such an account accrues for the benefit of the tenant.
- The tenant and the landlord must jointly, before the tenant moves into the dwelling, inspect the dwelling to ascertain the existence or not of any defects or damage therein with a view to determining the landlord’s responsibility for rectifying any defects or damage or with a view to record such defects or damage.
- At the expiration of the lease, the landlord and tenant must arrange a joint inspection of the dwelling at a mutually convenient time to take place (within a period of three days prior to such expiration) to ascertain if there was any damage caused to the dwelling during the tenant’s occupation.
- Failure by the landlord to inspect the dwelling in the presence of the tenant is deemed to be an acknowledgment by the landlord that the dwelling is in a good and proper state of repair, and the landlord will have no further claim against the tenant who must then be refunded the full deposit plus interest.
- The landlord however is entitled to apply such deposit and interest towards the payment of all amounts for which the tenant is liable under the said lease, including the reasonable cost of repairing damage to the dwelling during the lease.
- If the tenant fails to respond to the landlord’s request for an inspection at the expiration of the lease, the landlord must inspect the dwelling within seven days from such expiration in order to assess any damages or loss which occurred. The landlord may then deduct from the tenant’s deposit and interest the reasonable cost of repairing damage to the dwelling, including the cost of replacing lost keys.
- The balance of the deposit and interest, if any, after deduction of damages must be refunded to the tenant no later than 21 days after the expiration of the lease.
Even though a written agreement of lease is presently not required, it is advisable to have one. The simple reason for this is that as far as disputes regarding verbal leases are concerned it is always one person’s word against the others as to what exactly was agreed upon. If it is in writing there is no room for creative recollection as to what was, in fact, the agreement.
We advise and assist clients with the following:-
- Their legal rights and obligations as landlords;
- The drafting of agreements of lease;
- Practical advise in vetting and choosing prospective tenants;
- Practical advise in the day to day administration of their rental properties.
- How to deal with troublesome and defaulting tenants.
- Cancellations of agreements of lease.
- Eviction of tenants.