Never trust a man with an angle grinder

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

While landlords may initially welcome tenants who offer to undertake the necessary repairs to their rental homes, giving tenants carte blanche to do what they like can prove costly in the long run.

For example, technology is moving along at a furious pace and more and more people want plug-and-play facilities in their homes. Most tenants are understandably loath to spend a great deal of money on rented homes and thus may well employ less expensive unqualified people or even worse, get friends to help adapt their homes to their high-tech needs. Having an inexperienced person crawling around the ceiling space laying network cables can result in damage to ceiling boards and existing electrical conduits, cracked tiles and damage to the damp-proofing and insulation.

Worse still is the tenant who considers himself to be a DIY expert and who spends his weekends patrolling the aisles of his local hardware shop, looking for ways to express his bent. A particular favorite is the red and blue LED shower head that changes colour according to the temperature of the water. On the face of things, this is not a major issue. However, the dangers of having an amateur take a bobbejaan spanner to your plumbing system are very real.

Power tool pitfalls

A common example of the dangers that a man with an angle grinder poses is often only discovered once the tenant has moved out and the landlord wants to replace the existing burglar bars. Removing the slots from burglar bar screws may be a great security feature, but it lets the rust in and makes burglar bars virtually impossible to remove without causing major damage to the window frames.

Luxuries such as spa baths and solar heaters inevitably involve some modification to structural components of a home such as walls, roofs, plumbing and electrical systems. Again, enthusiasm and bravery don’t necessarily equate to skill and the landlord should insist that a registered qualified person be employed and vetted by the landlord before work commences.

On that note however, landlords should always ensure that a clause is inserted into the lease which states that written permission must be obtained prior to any alterations by anyone but himself. Likewise, there should also be a clause inserted which states that the property has to be returned in the same condition in which it was handed over (fair wear and tear excluded).

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