A new rental law act that was passed in 2014 might soon be implemented at last and change the relationship between landlord and tenant. Tobie Fourie, national rentals manager for the Chas Everitt International property group, said the changing of the rental law has been a work in progress for some time.

The Rental Housing Act of 1999 is currently still in place. “Together with the Consumer Protection Act and the common law, the act currently governs the overall relationship between tenant and landlord and sets out their statutory rights and obligations,” said Fourie. The new act will give more in-depth, clear details of the relationship between tenant and landlord and clarify what is in the rights of each person.

“These legal complexities will make it all the more important for landlords to appoint reputable, reliable, knowledgeable, qualified and legally-registered rental management agents to assist them and ensure they remain compliant,” said Fourie.

The new rental law states that:
– Lease agreements between the landlord and tenant must be in writing and will be legally binding
– All sections of the lease contract must be explained to the tenant and understood before signing
– The landlord will be responsible for keeping the property in a habitable state
– The landlord will be responsible for maintaining the property and ensuring it has access to basic services, i.e. water and electricity
– Only authorities in the designated area will be allowed to switch off the services of non-paying tenants. Landlords will not be allowed to cut off services.
– A  joint inspection by the landlord and tenant has to be done on the commencement of the lease period. If the landlord does not participate in this inspection, no part of the tenant’s deposit for repairs or damages may be withheld when the tenant leaves
– A defect list will have to form part of the lease agreement as an annexure
– Compulsory lease agreement should be signed by both landlord and tenant
– When a lease agreement has ended between parties, all monies, including deposit and the interest earned on it should be paid back to the tenant within seven days
– Landlords will need a court order if they wish to prevent their tenants from entering the premises.

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