A tenant rented a flat but is unhappy with the state of the dwelling, in particular a faulty geyser, and wants to know what options she has to enforce the landlord to make it habitable.
She says she paid the deposit, the first month’s rental and the cost of the preparation of the lease agreement, which she has not yet signed.
Her biggest problem is that the geyser – which is in plain view – is leaking, rusted and doesn’t work, so there is no hot water.
She has remained in the dwelling but is refusing to sign the lease until the required repairs have been done.
The landlord appears to be in no hurry to resolve the issues. When a day was arranged for the repairs to be done, she waited all day, but no contractors arrived.
See the reader’s question here.
It is normal for a prospective tenant to view a rental property before electing to enter into a lease with the landlord.
On this occasion, it is possible that circumstances didn’t allow for her to do so and she perhaps relied on photographs provided by the landlord after indicating her interest.
Furthermore, it appears that, upon indicating she was prepared to rent the dwelling, she only saw it for the first time when she took occupation.
The Rental Housing Act provides for certain events to take place which can assist the reader.
The relevant section says the tenant and landlord must jointly, before the tenant moves into the dwelling, inspect it to ascertain the existence of any defects or damage.
This is to determine the landlord’s responsibility for rectifying any defects or damage or to register any defects or damage.
The act also provides for the list of registered defects to be subsequently attached to the written lease.
It is not clear whether the reader has been provided with a copy of the lease still to be signed and, if so, what the content of the lease comprises.
If she does have a copy, it would be useful to peruse the provisions as the lease may well make provision for the landlord’s responsibility for repairs or maintenance to aspects such as the geyser.
The landlord is obliged to provide premises reasonably fit for the purpose for which the premises is let in return for the rental received.
In this instance it would be reasonable to assume that, as it is a dwelling for human habitation, it would contain a working geyser.
Common law also provides that, in general terms, the landlord is to maintain the premises. The reader can consider placing the landlord on terms and demand the repair or replacement of the geyser.
The regulations to the act place a duty on the landlord to maintain electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems among other things.
In referring the matter to the tribunal under the act, it could be argued that the replacement or repair of the geyser falls under this obligation.
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