Both tenants and landlords have rights and it’s important to understand these before entering into a lease agreement. 

As a tenant, you have to be responsible by paying your rent on the stipulated date in your lease agreement. If you don’t, you could be sued and evicted – and no one needs that kind of drama in their lives! 

In the interest of better tenant-landlord relations, it’s a good idea to know your rights.

Here are a few you may not be aware of.  

Put it in writing

Ensure your lease agreement is on paper and signed by you, your landlord and a witness. A verbal agreement may be binding, but it can cause problems in the long run if you or your landlord cannot remember the exact details of the agreement (or someone “conveniently” forgets). The lease agreement should contain important details like the lease period; the rent amount; whether water and electricity is included or excluded and if there will be an increase in rent after a certain period, etc. Make sure you understand the terms and conditions and don’t be shy to ask what they mean if you do not understand them. 

Inspect thoroughly 

Check all the rooms in the house for anything that could be broken or damaged.Yes, even a crack in the wall should be made note of and captured in the lease. If, upon this inspection, you still want to move in, take photos of those fragile areas as proof that they were there before you lived there – if your landlord claims not to have known about those damages, you could be held responsible to repair them. 

The deposit…

Although it may be hefty in the beginning (a month or two month’s rent in advance), you may be able to get all the money back when you leave. After your landlord has checked that you are leaving the place in the same condition you found it in and they are happy, your deposit should be paid back to you within seven days. However, the deposit can be used to pay for broken windows, exceeding the limit of your water or electricity bill, cleaning services, etc. 

Check the bills

If you pay the cost of your electricity and water bill to your landlord, you have the right to request to skim through their municipality account. This is simply to make sure that you are paying exactly what they are charging you for – nothing more. According to the Tenant Profile Network, as a result of Eskom regularly increasing the electricity bill, the landlord may pass on this increase in his levies or rates and taxes as monthly charges, only if the lease makes provision for this. 

It’s important to know your rights so that you can continue to live your way without any unnecessary misunderstandings or disagreements with your landlord. Make sure that you have home and contents insurance to protect your valuables because this may not be a part of your lease or the landlord’s responsibility. Apply for an insurance quote and save today.

 

Picture: Supplied

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