Frequently asked questions

Lawyer for property lease disputes in Port Elizabeth

LEASE OF RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY

What you need to know about renting residential property from a landlord or letting agent.

BY HOW MUCH CAN MY LANDLORD INCREASE MY RENT?

This should have been specified in the renewal terms of your agreement. If your agreement is silent on a reasonable escalation, your landlord must negotiate a new rental amount with you.

CAN I END MY LEASE EARLY?

It depends on the cancellation provisions in your contract. If your contract is silent on early cancellation, you will be in breach of contract unless your landlord agrees to it.  However, legal grounds for cancellation could include your landlord being in material breach of the lease (e.g. not performing maintenance as specified in the contract leading to the dwelling becoming uninhabitable).

In terms of the Consumer Protection Act [68 0f 2008]  you may also be able to cancel the lease early by giving the landlord 20 business days notice . The landlord may impose a cancellation penalty which reflect reasonable costs incurred to  find a replacement tenant.

CAN MY LANDLORD ENTER THE PROPERTY WITHOUT MY PERMISSION?

Your landlord has the right to enter the property (to perform routine inspections, maintenance etc.), but the landlord must arrange a suitable time well in advance. You cannot deny the landlord reasonable access.

CAN MY LANDLORD INCREASE MY RENT WHEN HE CHOOSES TO?

No, the lease agreement determines when, and by how much, your rent may be increased. If the agreement is silent on increases, the landlord must negotiate the increase with you.

CAN MY LANDLORD KEEP MY DEPOSIT?

Your landlord may deduct money to cover any outstanding rent and damages, in excess of fair wear and tear, caused by you.

 

CAN MY LANDLORD LOCK ME OUT?

No. If your landlord changes the locks for any reason he must immediately supply you with duplicate keys for the new locks.

CAN MY LANDLORD SELL MY POSSESSIONS IF I FALL BEHIND ON RENT?

The landlord must obtain a court order before any property may be sold.  The Sheriff of the Court will attach the required possessions in the amount of money owed. If your landlord removes possessions without a court order, it is theft.  Lay a complaint with the South African Police and lodge a complaint with the Rental Housing Tribunal.

IS IT STILL POSSIBLE TO EVICT A TENNT LAWFULLY IN SOUTH AFRICA?

Yes.  It might be a complex and protracted process to evict an unlawful occupier, but we can assist you every step of the way.  Read more about the unlawful tenant eviction process here. Or give us a call for assistance in your eviction matter.  We specialize in cases Port Elizabeth and surrounds.

MUST I PAY A DEPOSIT?

Yes, if the landlord requested one in the lease. If the terms of your original contract whether oral or written, did not specify a deposit, you need not pay one if the landlord asks you to do so later. Changes to a contract are only valid if both parties agree to them.

MUST I SIGN A LEASE CONTRACT?

A verbal contract is as binding as a written one. However, if your landlord requires a written lease contract for you to occupy the premises and you refuse to sign it, there is no agreement. Legally you cannot move into the property.

If your landlord asks you to sign a lease after you have rented a property on a verbal basis for some time, you do not have to sign a lease with terms that are different to your verbal contract. You and the landlord will have to negotiate new terms with you and secure your agreement first.

Remember, it is always better for both of you to have your contract in writing, setting out the terms and conditions of your agreement. This will prevent disputes later.

MY LEASE HAS ALREADY EXPIRED. MUST I GIVE NOTICE BEFORE I CAN MOVE OUT?

Review your previous lease agreement for renewal provisions.  These should inform you of the cancellation procedure.

If the agreement is silent on this matter, then, through your actions, you both have effectively already renewed the previous lease.  The terms and conditions remain the same, and for the full period stated in the original agreement. This means that you will have follow the cancellation clause of the original lease, in order to cancel the agreement.

If there is no cancellation clause, then you should have given your landlord one month’s notice, in writing, before the lease expired.  (At the end of the eleventh month for a twelve month contract).

WHAT CAN I DO IF MY LANDLORD DENIES I PAID THE RENT?

It is your responsibility to ensure that you can provide proof of payment (for example, a bank deposit slip). If you cannot, your landlord may give you notice in terms of your agreement and seek a court order for eviction.

In terms of the Rental Housing Act (Act 50 of 1999) you have the right to insist on a receipt for all payments.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE DEPOSIT AFTER BEING PAID?

The landlord or his agent must keep your deposit in an interest-bearing account (or trust account, in the case of an agent) for the time you are living on the property. When you vacate the property, the full deposit amount, plus the interest earned, must then be returned to you.  The landlord may subtract costs of damages caused by you and any monies you may still owe to the landlord in terms of the lease.

WHAT IF THE LANDLORD REFUSES TO MAINTAIN THE PROPERTY?

If the landlord refuses to maintain the property as specified in your lease agreement, you may lodge a complaint with the Rental Housing Tribunal.

WHAT INFORMATION MUST BE ON A WRITTEN LEASE AGREEMENT?
  • Your name.
  • Your landlord’s name.
  • Your postal address.
  • Your landlord’s postal address.
  • The address of the property being rented.
  • The amount for which you will rent it.
  • The amount by which the rent will escalate (say, by 10% on renewal of the lease).
  • Date when the rent will increase (for example, if there is a rates increase).
  • The frequency of rent payments (for example, monthly).
  • The amount of the deposit, if any.
  • All obligations for you and the landlord (for example, who is responsible for maintenance?
  • Responsibilities for utilities, rates and taxes? Usually, the tenant pays for charges related to consumption, such as water and electricity, and the landlord pays for charges related to the property, such as rates).
  • The conditions under which either you or your landlord can give notice to cancel the contract (for example, if specific maintenance is not done, or if the tenant is in arrears with the rent).
  • The property or complex’s house rules, signed by both of you, attached to the lease.
  • A list of pre-existing defects identified during a joint inspection when you move in and signed by both of you, must also be attached to the lease.
WHO MUST MAINTAIN THE PROPERTY?

It depends on what your contract says. Normally, a landlord maintains the outside of the property and a tenant the inside.

Lawyer for Lease agreements in Port Elizabeth

Expert Legal Property Advice

Landlord:  Do you need help with a problem tenant?

We set up lease agreement contracts that will protect you and your most valuable asset.  Your property.  We also assist in contract dispute resolution, court orders for property attachment to cover outstanding debt, and even eviction proceedings.

With your property matter in our hands you can rest assured.

Contact us for a consultation.

Lawyer for Lease agreements in Port Elizabeth

Is it still possible to evict an unlawful occupier?

Although the Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act  makes it a bit harder for a private landlord to evict a tenant from a residential property, it can still be done.  Read more about the South African eviction process here.

Let us walk you through the process and get rid of those unwanted and unlawful occupiers.  Contact Strydom attorneys for help with Eviction proceedings in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.