Answering the most common rental questions

Answering the most common rental questions

Private Property South Africa
RE/MAX

When a person occupies a home but does not own it, all sorts of complicated scenarios and questions can arise. Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, you are not alone if you have a few unanswered questions.

“The majority of questions we receive via our Regional Support Office online channels have to do with rentals,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. “Most questions tend to be around the deposit and other maintenance related concerns,” he explains.

To help clear up the confusion, South Africa’s largest real estate brand, RE/MAX of Southern Africa, shares the answers to some of the most frequently asked rental questions…

1) How can the deposit be used by the landlord?

The landlord is entitled to deduct from the rental deposit for any expenses incurred repairing any damage to the property which occurred during the tenancy. The remainder of the money must then be refunded to the tenant no later than 14 days after the restoration of the property as dictated by the Rental Housing Act.

If repairs are done, the tenant can request to see all repair receipts to confirm that the money was spent to repair the damage they did to the property. In general, the landlord typically cannot use the deposit for what is classified as consumables (items that must be replaced regularly because of consumption or wear and tear), general maintenance or upkeep of the property. If there is no damage to the property, the full deposit and interest must be paid to the tenant within seven days of the lease's expiration date.

2) Who is responsible for what maintenance items?

The rental agreement will outline the responsibilities of both the tenant and the landlord as well as the consequences if these are not met. But, in general, below are some of the most important points of which to take note:

Tenants are generally responsible for:

  • Paying the deposit
  • Paying the rent and services in full and on time as per the lease agreement
  • Keep in mind that you cannot withhold rental payments just because you’re not satisfied
  • Clarify in writing what maintenance is going to be your responsibility
  • Protect and maintain the interior of the property against wear and tear
  • Do not make any changes to the property without your landlord’s agreement
  • Pay for living expenses such as electricity, water, internet (although landlords may choose to include some of these costs within the rental amount)
  • Cover your own household content insurance

Landlords are generally responsible for:

  • Ensuring that the property is in a reasonable condition when the tenant moves in

  • Inspecting the property before the tenant moves in and after the tenant has moved out

  • Ensuring that a written lease agreement is prepared & signed by both parties

  • Ensuring that all payments received are issued with a receipt to the tenant

  • Clarify in writing what maintenance is going to be your responsibility

  • Maintaining all the permanent fixtures of the property, such as plumbing, electricity, security features, etc.

  • Allowing the tenant the right to privacy and to enjoy their home undisturbed

  • Providing adequate notice should you need to enter the property

  • Ensuring that all repairs to the property are performed timeously

  • Ensuring that the premise is safe and secure

  • Disclosing any known environmental hazards

  • Keeping the tenant’s deposit in an interest-bearing account

3) How much can a landlord charge for a deposit?

The amount that the tenant will be required to pay as a deposit is stipulated in the lease agreement. There is no limit to what a landlord may legally charge for a deposit. Conventionally, the rental deposit amount is equal to between one or even three months’ rent.

“Rental issues are complicated matters. Most questions can be answered by referring to the details provided in the lease agreement. Questions can also be raised with a local rental agent. If an agreement cannot be reached, both parties may seek free council from the Rental Housing Tribunal (RHT): an organisation that exists to resolve disputes,” Goslett concludes.

Writer : Kayla Ferguson

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