Relations between Tenants and Landlords

Chapter 3 of the Rental Housing Act, 1999 deals with the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords

An extract from the act appears below. In summary:
• The landlord must furnish the tenant with written receipts for all payments received by the landlord from the tenant.
• A deposit paid by the tenant to the landlord must be invested by the landlord in an interest-bearing account with a financial institution and the landlord must pay the tenant interest at the rate applicable to a savings account with a financial institution. The tenant may request the landlord to provide him/her with written proof in respect of the interest accrued on the deposit, and the landlord must provide the proof on request.
• The tenant and the landlord must jointly, before the tenant moves into the dwelling, inspect the dwelling to ascertain whether or not there exists any defects or damage to the dwelling. If there are any defects or damage, it must be reduced to writing and attached as an annexure to the lease.
• At the expiration of the lease the landlord and tenant must arrange a joint inspection of the dwelling to take place within a period of three days prior to the expiration of the lease.
• On the expiration of the lease, the landlord may apply the deposit and interest towards the payment of all amounts for which the tenant is liable under the lease, including the reasonable cost of repairing damage to the dwelling during the lease period. The balance of the deposit and interest, if any, must then be refunded to the tenant by the landlord not later than 14 days after the tenant has vacated the dwelling.
• The receipts which indicate the costs which the landlord incurred in repairing any damage to the dwelling must be available to the tenant for inspection as proof of the costs incurred.
• Should no amounts be due and owing to the landlord in terms of the lease, the deposit, together with the accrued interest, must be refunded by the landlord to the tenant, without any deduction or set-off, within seven days of expiration of the lease.
• Failure by the landlord to inspect the dwelling in the presence of the tenant is deemed to be an acknowledgement by the landlord that the dwelling is in a good state of repair, and the landlord will have no further claim against the tenant, who must then be refunded the full deposit plus interest.

Rental Housing Act, 1999
Chapter 3 Relations between Tenants and Landlords

5. Provisions pertaining to leases
1)     A lease between a tenant and a landlord, subject to subsection (2), need not be in writing or be subject to the provisions of the Formalities in Respect of Leases of Land Act, 1969 (Act No. 18 of 1969).
2)     A landlord must, if requested thereto by a tenant, reduce the lease to writing.
3)     A lease will be deemed to include terms, enforceable in a competent court, to the effect that-
a)        the landlord must furnish the tenant with a written receipt for all payments received by the landlord from the tenant;
b)        such receipt must be dated and clearly indicate the address, including the street number and further description, if necessary, of a dwelling in respect of which payment is made, and whether payment has been made for rental, arrears, deposit or otherwise, and specify the period for which payment is made: Provided that a Tribunal may, in exceptional cases, and on application by a landlord, exempt the landlord from providing the information contemplated in this paragraph;
c)         the landlord may require a tenant, before moving into the dwelling, to pay a deposit which, at the time, may not exceed an amount equivalent to an amount specified in the agreement or otherwise agreed to between the parties;
d)        the deposit contemplated in paragraph (c) must be invested by the landlord in an interest-bearing account with a financial institution and the landlord must subject to paragraph (g) pay the tenant such interest at the rate applicable to such account which may not be less than the rate applicable to a savings account with that financial institution, and the tenant may during the period of the lease request the landlord to provide him or her with written proof in respect of interest accrued on such deposit, and the landlord must provide such proof on request: Provided that where the landlord is a registered estate agent as provided for in the Estate Agency Affairs Act, 1976 (Act No. 112 of 1976), the deposit and any interest thereon shall be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of that Act;
e)        the tenant and the landlord must jointly, before the tenant moves into the dwelling, inspect the dwelling to ascertain the existence or not of any defects or damage therein with a view to determining the landlord’s responsibility for rectifying any defects or damage or with a view to registering such defects or damage, as provided for in subsection (7);
f)          at the expiration of the lease the landlord and tenant must arrange a joint inspection of the dwelling at a mutually convenient time to take place within a period of three days prior to such expiration with a view to ascertaining if there was any damage caused to the dwelling during the tenant’s occupation thereof;
g)        on the expiration of the lease, the landlord may apply such deposit and interest towards the payment of all amounts for which the tenant is liable under the said lease, including the reasonable cost of repairing damage to the dwelling during the lease period and the cost of replacing lost keys and the balance of the deposit and interest, if any, must then be refunded to the tenant by the landlord not later than 14 days of restoration of the dwelling to the landlord;
h)     the relevant receipts which indicate the costs which the landlord incurred, as contemplated in paragraph (g), must be available to the tenant for inspection as proof of such costs incurred by the landlord;
i)      should no amounts be due and owing to the landlord in terms of the lease, the deposit, together with the accrued interest in respect thereof, must be refunded by the landlord to the tenant, without any deduction or set-off, within seven days of expiration of the lease;
j)      failure by the landlord to inspect the dwelling in the presence of the tenant as contemplated in paragraphs (e) or (f) is deemed to be an acknowledgement by the landlord that the dwelling is in a good and proper state of repair, and the landlord will have no further claim against the tenant who must then be refunded, in terms of this subsection, the full deposit plus interest by the landlord;
k)     should the tenant fail to respond to the landlord’s request for an inspection as contemplated in paragraph (f), the landlord must, on expiration of the lease, inspect the dwelling within seven days from such expiration in order to assess any damages or loss which occurred during the tenancy;
l)      the landlord may in the circumstances contemplated in paragraph (k), without detracting from any other right or remedy of the landlord, deduct from the tenant’s deposit and interest the reasonable cost of repairing damage to the dwelling and the cost of replacing lost keys;
m)    the balance of the deposit and interest, if any, after deduction of the amounts contemplated in paragraph (1), must be refunded to the tenant by the landlord not later than 21 days after expiration of the lease;
n)     the relevant receipts which indicate the costs which the landlord incurred, as contemplated in paragraph (1), must be available to the tenant for inspection as proof of such costs incurred by the landlord;
o)     should the tenant vacate the dwelling before expiration of the lease, without notice to the landlord, the lease is deemed to have expired on the date that the landlord established that the tenant had vacated the dwelling but in such event the landlord retains all his or her rights arising from the tenant’s breach of the lease; and
p)     any costs in relation to contract of lease shall only be payable by the tenant upon proof of factual expenditure by the landlord.
4)     The standard provisions referred to in subsection (3) may not be waived by the tenant or the landlord.
5)     If on the expiration of the lease the tenant remains in the dwelling with the express or tacit consent of the landlord, the parties are deemed, in the absence of a further written lease, to have entered into a periodic lease, on the same terms and conditions as the expired lease, except that at least one month’s written notice must be given of the intention by either party to terminate the lease.
6)     A lease contemplated in subsection (2) must include the following information:
a)     The names of the tenant and the landlord and their addresses in the Republic for purposes of formal communication;
b)     the description of the dwelling which is the subject of the lease;
c)      the amount of rental of the dwelling and reasonable escalation, if any, to be paid in terms of the lease;
d)     if rentals are not paid on a monthly basis, then the frequency of rental payments;
e)     the amount of the deposit, if any;
f)      the lease period, or, if there is no lease period determined, the notice period requested for termination of the lease;
g)     obligations of the tenant and the landlord, which must not detract from the provisions of subsection (3) or the regulations relating to unfair practice;
h)     the amount of the rental, and any other charges payable in addition to the rental in respect of the property.
7)     A list of defects registered in terms of subsection (3)(e) must be attached as an annexure to the lease as contemplated in subsection (2).
8)     A copy of any House Rules applicable to a dwelling must be attached as an annexure to the lease.
9)     A landlord must ensure that the provisions of subsections (6), (7) and (8) are complied with.

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