Deposit Protection with Private Rentals

Private Property South Africa
Private Property Reporter

Private rentals have various advantages to both the tenant and owner. It cuts out the agent’s fee, meaning rent could potentially be slightly cheaper. Furthermore there is a direct line between the tenant and landlord, which could mean a quicker response when dealing with emergencies like broken geysers. However, as there is no agent involved in private rentals, there is no middle man looking out for both parties. Therefore both tenant and landlord should ensure that a proper contract is in place that will protect both sides. One of the most important points in such a contract should be protecting the tenant’s deposit. Tenants are usually required to pay at least one month’s deposit, although it could in some cases be more. The contract should clearly state the circumstances under which the deposit could be withheld either fully or in part. Landlords usually hold back a deposit when it is clear that the tenant did not look after the property. The part of the deposit held back should only be enough to fix specific things damaged while the tenant lived in the property. However, it should not include expenses towards general maintenance, as this usually falls under the owner’s responsibilities. Tenants should carefully read the fine print on their contracts, as some owners do expect tenants to take care of all general maintenance too. In such a case the tenant could be in for quite an ugly surprise as maintenance costs could often easily exceed the amount that they put down as a deposit. With private rentals both tenants and owners could benefit from drawing up a list of things broken on the day that the tenant moves in. In this way the owner can’t claim breakages that the tenant weren’t responsible for, while the tenant can’t blame new damages to the property on a previous tenant. In some cases, the owner will pay the tenant’s deposit into a separate savings account where the money can earn an interest.

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