This week the Property Poser panel assists a reader who has rented premises for the past five months but has yet to receive a copy of her lease agreement, despite requesting it on a number of occasions.
Of greater concern to her is the fact that the problems with the rental property, as identified during a jointly conducted inspection, have still not been addressed or repaired.
She explains that an agent from a well-known rental agency assists her landlord, so the delay is unexpected and quite concerning.
Schalk van der Merwe from Rawson Properties in Somerset West, Cape Town, says the lease agreement concluded between a landlord and his or her tenant generally sets out the rights and duties of the parties to that agreement.
Of particular relevance, says Van der Merwe, would be the recording of the monthly rental payable, annual escalation, lease period, as well as the state of the premises and any problems for repair.
“We already know that there are certain issues with the premises that require some attention and our reader would, no doubt, be extremely upset if she were to be held responsible for them at the end of the lease.”
Van der Merwe says this could result in the tenant forfeiting her deposit or, worse, in costly litigation between the parties.
Fortunately, the Rental Housing Act provides the reader with the assistance she requires, says Grant Hill of Miller Bosman Le Roux Attorneys in Somerset West.
“While a lease needn’t be in writing, the Act states that a landlord must provide a written agreement if requested to do so by the tenant.”
Hill says the Regulations also provide that, where a landlord accepts payment of rental, an undelivered lease gains the effect of a delivered lease.
“The Regulations to the Act take the matter further; if the lease has been reduced to writing, the landlord must furnish the tenant with a copy within 21 days.”
Hill says the Regulations also regulate aspects related to the reporting of problems and maintenance of the premises.
“After the joint inspection, any required repairs must be made within 14 days or whatever period may be agreed upon by both parties.”
The Act thus provides a remedy for both issues troubling the tenant, says Hill.
“Our reader should therefore approach her nearest Rental Housing Tribunal for assistance and resolution.”
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