Landlords from Hell

Landlords from Hell

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

The story about an unreasonable landlord who wanted to let out part of his property to a tenant has gone viral. The person in question had made a list of 31 rules that the tenant would have to comply with, or face eviction.

It is all good and well to have rules in place, particularly when sharing a property, but stating at what times the tenant may shower and insisting that the lessee may not eat or keep pork on the premises do seem a little over the top.

The rules also stated that the tenant could only have visitors twice a month and that the guests would have to remain in the rented area. Any other place, including the kitchen, was off limits. The landlord also made it abundantly clear that the tenant only rented the room and was therefore banned from sitting in the lounge. Any ideas of relaxing in the kitchen were quickly squashed as rule number nine stated that the landlord regarded that area as his personal living space. As such, the tenant could eat there but was not permitted to linger. In the landlord's words, "you must eat, wash up and then go back to room."(sic) Any hopes of taking a relaxing shower were also dashed as the rules indicated that showering was limited to a 15 minute session, and that at prescribed times of the day.

On the eating note, the tenant had only 30 minutes in which to prepare food. To combat cooking smells, the rules demanded that the doors had to remain open during the cooking process. Again in the landlord’s words, "doors must be opened whilst cooking if doors are not open then a charge will be added to your rent for new wallpaper."

One assumes that the landlord in question had trouble finding a suitable tenant. Obviously some sort of control freak, his rules were more suited to a prison camp than a home. It may be an extreme example, but unfortunately there are landlords who view -and treat - their tenants with disdain and make their lives miserable by imposing ridiculous rules or by making unreasonable demands.

Perhaps the time has come for tenants to vet their landlords before moving in. Of course there are two sides to every story, but if a landlord has a history of refusing to repay deposits or acting unreasonably in other ways, it may be advisable for tenants to carrying on searching for the right property with the right landlord.

Unreasonable landlords can make a tenant’s life unbearable and the decision to rent property from this type of person often proves to be an expensive exercise. Fair wear and tear is a legally recognised form of deterioration which occurs without the tenant being responsible and is generally accepted by most landlords as a fact of life. Unfortunately, there are landlords who assume that the tenant is responsible for everything and will not hesitate to deduct monies from the deposit to cover the repair or maintenance work required. In other words, the tenant is going to be penalised, regardless of how well he looks after the property.

Tenants should learn to ask questions before signing on the dotted line. If the property is being leased through an agent, ask about the landlord. Try to find out how often the property has been rented out and if it seems as if there have been a disproportionate number of tenants who have called the property home in a relative short period of time, ask why.

Inspect the property thoroughly before moving in, and make sure you check all the fittings carefully. There are unscrupulous landlords who make a habit of installing cheap fittings and then making the tenant pay when they break. The same goes for the wall coverings. Ask what sort of paint has been used and whether it is washable. Make certain that the landlord understands the law and respects your privacy. Landlords may not conduct inspections or enter the property without notifying the tenant beforehand.


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