A reader in a rental dwelling does not have a written lease agreement after her initial three-month arrangement expired.
Concerned that her lease may be terminated, she wants to know what she can do about the situation.
After the conclusion of the initial three-month written agreement, she paid a month’s deposit and moved into the dwelling.
Financial circumstances saw her request the owner for an extension to pay the rental for the month.
The landlord agreed on the proviso that, should the tenant not pay on the agreed later date, he would lock her out of the dwelling.
Once the rental agreement expired, the landlord said it was not necessary to conclude a subsequent written agreement.
See the reader’s question here.
In terms of the Rental Housing Act the landlord is obliged to reduce the lease to writing.
The lease is required to include certain information relating to the parties, identification of the dwelling, rental payable and other related aspects.
The act states if the tenant remains in the dwelling with the express or tacit consent of the landlord once the lease expires, the parties are deemed, in the absence of a further written lease, to have entered into a periodic lease.
This will be on the same terms and conditions as the expired lease.
However, at least one month’s written notice must be given of the intention by either party to terminate the lease.
As a matter of interpretation, it is useful to know that a periodic lease is defined as a lease for an undetermined period, subject to notice of termination by either party.
In short, this means the landlord is technically correct in that a further written lease agreement is not required.
The danger to the reader is that the lease may be terminated on notice of one month by the landlord.
Of course, based on the landlord‘s previous threat to merely lock our reader out of the rented dwelling, he may also try to terminate the lease without even giving a notice period.
There are certain remedies the reader could employ to resolve the situation.
The negotiation of a further lease period could provide our reader with some comfort knowing she is technically secure in having the right of occupation for that period.
Should the parties enter into such an arrangement for a further specified period, they would reduce the new agreement to writing.
This can be done by way of the old agreement merely being amended to reflect the new period.
Alternatively it can be done through an addendum to the agreement of lease whereby it is agreed and recorded that the period has been extended.
However, should the current arrangement persist, the landlord would continue to hold the deposit of the reader as security for any damages to the rented dwelling.
This would be determined upon the expiration and vacation of the rented dwelling in the usual manner.
The reader should also remember that she is entitled to request proof that the deposit is being held in a separate interest-bearing account.
To possibly avoid any threats of being locked out of the rented dwelling, our reader should familiarise herself with the provisions of the original lease because those provisions still apply.
Should the landlord threaten to take any irregular steps in future, the reader would then know the correct procedure set out in the agreement.
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