Laws that protect tenants

Private Property South Africa
Tenant Profile Network

There are dozens of obvious and practical reasons why many individuals, families as well as businesses, rent property. For a start, renting provides the tenant with the benefits of fairly fast availability and choice. Although some may argue to the contrary, the flexibility enjoyed by tenants as a result of renting should be appreciated, as well as the relative freedom from unexpected or hidden costs and sudden market crashes. Tenants and landlords should enter into agreements with the intention of giving as well as getting reasonable value. In many cases, the attitude with which one approaches a deal will determine its long-term (or possibly short-term) viability and success.

Rather than the much misunderstood idea that renting property is “enriching somebody else” tenants should consider the benefits of renting and be willing to accept that in most cases, they are receiving a fair bargain. But like just about everything in life, even a bargain must be paid for. Hence the reasons why the obligations of tenants (as well as landlords) are covered in statutory, as well as non-statutory law.

Non-statutory (common) law

The tenant is obliged to:

  • Pay the proper amount of rent in the proper commodity at the proper place and time.

  • Take good care of the property and not use it for other purposes than for which it was let.

  • Restore it to the same condition that he received it at termination of the lease.

Common law states simply that the full rent must be paid at the proper time – the time and date agreed by both the tenant and the landlord. It

does not provide the tenant with a seven-day grace period.

Statutary law (the Rental Housing Act)

The tenant is obliged to:

  • Make prompt and regular payment of rent and other charges payable in terms of the lease.

  • Make payment of a deposit – the amount of which should be agreed upfront between the landlord and tenant.

  • Have a joint incoming and outgoing inspection with the landlord.

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