This week, the Property Poser expert considers the plight of another unhappy but dutiful tenant.
The reader explains that she rents a dwelling from her landlord and has a written lease agreement in place.
Her lease provides for her paying her monthly rental on the first of each month but her landlord and his wife start phoning and demanding she pay her rental by the 20th of each month.
When the reader has not paid her rental on demand, the landlord has driven to the dwelling, threatened her to open the gate and forced her to grab her clothes and go wait outside, presumably until she has agreed to pay.
A further problem stems from the fact that the landlord either controls or fails to pay the electricity for the dwelling timeously.
During October, the tenant paid half her rental on the 24th and the balance by the first of November. This notwithstanding, she was then without electricity for five days.
It is not clear whether this was an oversight on the part of the landlord or a punishment. The reader is at her wits’ end and would like to know what rights she has in such an instance.
The conduct of the landlord is unconscionable, says Sean Radue of Radue Attorneys in Port Elizabeth.
“Although the reader doesn’t specify the details of the landlord’s threats or why he’d want to enter the dwelling in the first place, his actions could quite possibly be criminal if the reader is reacting out of fear of him.”
Depending on the circumstances, the reader should consider either calling the police or going to her local SAPS branch to lay a charge of assault against her landlord, says Radue.
“This may not endear her to her landlord but it may help to prevent a more serious assault.”
From a rental perspective, he says the Rental Housing Act provides that a tenant has the right of privacy.
“The landlord only has the right of inspection after reasonable notice to the tenant and, under the Regulations to the Act, only in the permitted circumstances.”
The Act also provides that the landlord has the right to prompt rental payment, says Radue.
“In this instance, we know that it is to have the rental paid by the first of each month.”
He says a rented property must be fit for purpose, in this case, as a dwelling.
“The provision of municipal services forms part of the landlord’s obligations to the tenant with regard to the dwelling.”
The withholding thereof or failure to ensure the constant provision thereof, subject to certain restrictions, is a transgression of the Regulations by the landlord, says Radue.
“The Regulations even go so far as to provide that the landlord should not expose the tenant to the risk of interruption or loss of such services where the tenant has paid the amount due.”
He says such an act or omission, as the case may be, constitutes an unfair practice by the landlord under the Regulations.
“Our reader should approach the tribunal under the Act for the various unfair practices perpetrated against her, particularly if moving isn’t an option.”
To ask a property related question, click here.