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New Commercial and Industrial section

We are expanding our operation to include Commercial and Industrial rentals, contact George on 081 777 3337 to join the team. You can also send a CV to george@harcourts.co.za 

Coming Soon - watch this exciting new addition to the Harcourts office



Have you considered a career in the REAL-ESTATE industry?

We will be starting a 28 day induction course for new sale and rental agents .Contact George for more info or send your info to gardenroute@harcourts.co.za

Points on Renting

There are dozens of obvious and practical reasons why many individuals, families as well as businesses, rent property. For a start, renting provides the tenant with the benefits of fairly fast availability and choice. Although some may argue to the contrary, the flexibility enjoyed by tenants as a result of renting should be appreciated, as well as the relative freedom from unexpected or hidden costs and sudden market crashes. Tenants and landlords should enter into agreements with the intention of giving as well as getting reasonable value. In many cases, the attitude with which one approaches a deal will determine its long-term (or possibly short-term) viability and success. 

Rather than the much misunderstood idea that renting property is “enriching somebody else” tenants should consider the benefits of renting and be willing to accept that in most cases, they are receiving a fair bargain. But like just about everything in life, even a bargain must be paid for. Hence the reasons why the obligations of tenants (as well as landlords) are covered in statutory, as well as non-statutory law.

• In renting property, the Rental Housing Act (click here to download in PDF format) of 1999 is still paramount and is in almost no way superseded by the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) (click here to download in PDF format).

• If a lease expires and the landlord agrees to the tenant staying on without signing a new lease, either party (landlord or tenant) is by law entitled to give just one month’s notice of lease cancellation from then on.

• It is the Rental Housing Act and not the CPA that defines landlord and tenant rights.

• Widespread publicity concerning the CPA has led to some inaccurate, often unfortunate perceptions among those who would like to see consumers having greater powers (but who have often not studied the act seriously) – and nowhere is this more true than in the complicated subject of landlord-tenant relationships.

• Tenants have sometimes picked up the idea that they are now in a laissez-faire, free-for-all situation and that they can behave in a thoroughly irresponsible and illegal manner.

• However, the reality is that in property rental matters the Rental Housing Act of 1999 is still paramount and is in almost no way superseded by the CPA.

• Landlords and tenants should download the acts and study them. It is exceptionally clearly written and easily understood and its great advantage is that it is fair to both landlords and tenants.

A few salient points in the act of which those involved in rental property should be aware. These are as follows:

• If a lease expires and the landlord agrees to the tenant staying on without signing a new lease, either party (landlord or tenant) is by law entitled to give just one month’s notice of lease cancellation from then on. It is, however, advisable to sign a new lease because under the CPA, the tenant has the right to cancel the lease at any time subject to giving 20 business days’ written notice. This does not apply to certain juristic parties, but be warned, if the cancellation right is exercised, the CPA also stipulates that the landlord is entitled to a ‘reasonable’ cancellation fee and this could be as high as three months rental. However, if the tenant is replaced quickly, the cancellation would in most cases be far lower.

• The landlord’s “preparation” responsibilities are limited. It is not widely appreciated that the landlord, in terms of the act, is not responsible for ensuring that every aspect of the home is in apple pie order: he has to see that it is ‘habitable’, which is generally taken to mean that it is reasonably clean and that equipment is working. He is not, for example, expected prior to the tenant’s arrival to have all the carpets and curtains dry-cleaned or to have all stains on the walls and floors removed.

• The lease agreement (and alterations to it) does not always have to be in writing, however it is preferable as well as all conditions are spelt out in writing as it helps to be able to refer to written points – but a lease agreement is one of the few cases in property law where a verbal agreement, if it can be substantiated, is in fact binding.

• It should also be clearly understood that the Rental Housing Act gives landlords ample power over tenants who default on their rental payments. Among the public, it is now a common misconception that the CPA will make life for defaulters easier – but this is not so. Section 4 (5c) of the Rental Housing Act, actually stipulates that the landlord has the right to cancel the lease the moment rent is paid late. This could mean that if it is not paid on the stipulated date, the very next day the landlord is entitled to cancel the lease and if the tenant is then tardy about leaving, the landlord can apply for an eviction order. In some cases the lease may provide softer terms and conditions, which would take precedence over the act – but this should never be assumed until the facts have been checked out.

• It should also be clearly understood that the act makes mandatory an initial inspection of the premises by the landlord and the tenant meeting together on a stipulated day, as well as, an outgoing inspection when the lease expires. If either of these inspections is missed by either of the parties, for whatever reason, the checklist drawn up by the one who did attend the meeting is accepted and the other party foregoes his rights in this regard. This has very serious implications if the landlord’s claims for damages are high and there are landlords who regularly over-claim on conventional wear and tear items which in fact are not really damages, he says. It is, therefore, particularly important for the tenant to attend the outgoing inspection.

• There are certain other clauses in the Rental Housing Act which are frequently misunderstood and a good rental agent, if properly trained, will quietly and patiently work through these clauses with the tenant and the landlord at the start of every lease.