Property law is extensive and complex, meaning that the average person will have a hard time keeping track of everything involved. This article serves to make tenants aware of the most important regulations stipulated by law that will affect them.
1. Rental Increases
Rent is freely negotiable in the Republic of South Africa. This means that should a tenant feel rent is too high, they are obligated to pay it while living there unless the tenant submits a formal complaint to the Rental Housing Tribunal. If it is found by the Tribunal that the landlord is, in fact, charging far too much rent for sub-par quality accommodation the Tribunal can order the landlord to reduce rent, especially if the building is not well maintained.
2. Duration of Contract
No landlord has the right to prematurely terminate a fixed-term lease. When it comes to a tenant staying in a home after the end of a fixed term contract the lease is seen as a periodic lease. A periodic lease can be ended following one full month’s written notice. So, even on a periodic lease, a landlord may not verbally tell you to leave in anything less than a month and this is not valid without written notice.
The tenant is expected to follow the rules and pay the rent in full, on time, every month. If this is done then it is the responsibility of the landlord to maintain the property (unless stipulated otherwise in the contract) while conducting inspections which are announced well before the time.
Deposits are not restricted by law, and the size of the deposit is entirely up to the landlord but must be clearly stipulated in your contract. Note that it is usually the same value as between one and two month’s rent. This being said, the money must be invested into an interest-bearing account with a rate not lower than that which would be applicable to a savings account.
The security deposit must be returned to the tenant by the landlord (if no fault is found that would cause a loss of deposit) within 21 days, with interest.
Eviction is the act of legally forcing a tenant to leave the property. However, a landlord may not evict a tenant without a court order. Anyone considered an unlawful occupier is eligible for eviction. An unlawful occupier is any person that is on the property without consent from the landlord, even if consent was previously given and then withdrawn. Following the procedure laid out by the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Property Act or PIE Act is the only way to lawfully evict an unlawful occupier.