Information on the lease agreement

Private Property South Africa
The Property Guide

Find out more about lease agreement types and what written lease agreements should and should not contain.

This is a legal contract between an Owner/Landlord/Lessor and a Tenant/Lessee, whereby the lessor allows the tenant temporary use of his dwelling, in return for payment from the lessee, known as rent.

A verbal lease agreement is legal, although it is strongly recommended to draw up a written agreement, so that both parties are 100% clear on what their rights and obligations are. Both parties must keep a copy of this agreement to refer to when in doubt.

The owner can appoint a managing or letting agent to take care of his property; in a lot of cases the landlord is not the owner of the property.

A written lease agreement must contain:

  • The names and addresses of both parties;

  • The description of the property;

  • The rental amount and reasonable escalation;

  • The frequency of rental payments, i.e. monthly;

  • The amount of the deposit;

  • The lease period;

  • The notice period for termination of contract;

  • The lessor's obligations;

  • Any other costs payable by the tenant;

  • A list of defects and whether both parties agree that the lessor must take responsibility to have them fixed or whether it has just been recorded to make it clear that they existed before commencement of the contract. (This is usually a separate document attached.);

  • A list of the furniture included, if a furnished property is rented out (This is usually a separate document attached.);

  • The House Rules, if any (This is usually a separate document attached).

A written lease agreement may NOT contain:

  • A penalty for late payment of rent, other than interest;

  • The landlord may stipulate the maximum number of residents allowed on the property, but may not discriminate either by race, gender, marital status, age, disability or religion, whom of the tenant's visitors are allowed. The landlord may also not include in his advertisement, things like 'Single Males Only', 'No Children', 'Aged between 20-30', 'Only Students', etc.

Stamp Duties

Stamp Duty on all lease agreements has been abolished as from 1 April 2009. The Stamp Duties Act 77 of 1968 was repealed by section 103 of the Revenue Laws Amendment Act 60 of 2008 - effective from 1 April 2009.

This article originally appeared in Property Power 11th Edition Magazine. To order the latest Property Guide click here.

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