When it comes to letting a property – both the tenant and the landlord should always enter into any letting agreements openly and honestly and intending for each party to get proper value. Often it’s the approach which the parties adopt which will determine whether the relationship between the parties and the benefits they derive therefrom is mutually satisfactory. Furthermore, there are important duties that each party is expected to do.
Non-Statutory Law (Common Law)
The tenant is obliged to:
• Pay the proper amount of rent in the proper commodity at the proper place and time.
• Take good care of the property and not use it for other purposes than for which it was let.
• Restore it to the same condition that he received it at termination of the lease.
• Common law states simply that the full rent must be paid at the proper time – the time and date agreed by both the tenant and the landlord. It does not provide the tenant with a 7-day grace period.
Statuary Law (The Rental Housing Act)
The tenant is obliged to:
• Make prompt and regular payment of rent and other charges payable in terms of the lease.
• Make payment of a deposit – the amount of which should be agreed upfront between the landlord and tenant.
• Have a joint incoming and outgoing inspection with the landlord.
The property owner
The prime duty of a property owner is to give a tenant occupation and control of the property. Furthermore, the owner has to maintain the property in its proper condition, subject to fair wear and tear (defined as the ‘unavoidable consequence of the passage of time’). The owner must also ensure that normal running repairs to the property are carried out.
A second important duty of the owner is a guarantee that the tenant will enjoy the undisturbed use and enjoyment of the property for the duration of the lease. This duty has three facets:
• The property owner must not unlawfully interfere with the tenant’s rights although he or she is entitled, in certain circumstances, to interfere lawfully if, for instance, the tenant has to vacate the premises temporarily to allow necessary repairs to be done. Although an owner also has a right of inspection, this right must be exercised in a reasonable manner.
• The owner must protect the tenant against being disturbed by ‘third parties’ who may claim a stronger right to the property than the tenant. For example, if you sub-let property from a lessee whose lease is invalid (perhaps because it has not been drawn up properly), you could be evicted by the original owner of the property. If this happens, the person who sub-let the property to you is obliged to protect you from being evicted.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)