Law of Lease

Lease Agreements

When considering whether to rent a new property from a landlord many people have reservations. Most frequently an individual will sign a lease agreement not being entirely sure of their rights and duties or that of the landlord towards them. Below is a brief exposition of certain rights which many people may not be aware of.

 

The Act

Lease agreements are regulated amongst others, by the Rental Housing Act, Act 50 of 1999 (RHA).

Terms

In terms of the RHA, a lease actually does not need to be in writing, the landlord does, however, have to furnish the tenant with a written receipt for all payments received from the tenant. A lease must contain the names of the tenant and landlord and their addresses, the description of the property/dwelling, the amount of rental to be paid, the frequency which the rental payments are to be made, the amount of the deposit and the lease period.

A landlord may, and usually will, require a tenant to pay a deposit. The landlord is then obligated to invest this deposit in an interest-bearing account. All such interest accrued will be payable to the tenant at the same time the deposit is payable back to the tenant.

The tenant and the landlord must jointly before the tenant moves into the property, inspect it to identify any defects or damage with a view of determining the landlord's responsibility for rectifying the damage or defects.

Similarly, at the expiration or cancellation of the lease, the tenant and landlord must jointly conduct an inspection of the property within 3 days before the lease expires with a view to ascertaining if any damage was caused to the property. Failure by the landlord to carry out such inspection in the presence of the tenant is deemed to be an acknowledgement that the property is in a proper state of repair.

Upon the lease expiring, the landlord may apply the deposit and interest received from the tenant towards the reasonable repair of the damage caused to the property during the time of the tenant’s occupation, such damage as was ascertained from the inspection described above. The remaining balance must then be forwarded to the tenant.

The tenant may request receipts for the repairs carried out to the property as proof of such repairs.

If no amount is due to the landlord, the deposit along with the interest must be refunded to the tenant within 7 days of the expiry of the lease.

All of these provisions may not be waived by either the landlord or tenant.

Complexity

Lease agreements, especially those in relation to commercial property or large developments can often be extremely complex and confusing. For any legal concerns you may have related to lease agreements, whether you are a landlord or a tenant, feel free to contact us for assistance.