On 18 March 2022, the Minister of Human Settlements, Mmamoloko Kubayi, published draft regulations in terms of the Rental Housing Amendment Act (No 35 of 2014) for public comment.
Although the Act was promulgated in 2014, it has yet to be implemented, which means that the Rental Housing Act of 99 is still in force.
The objective of the draft regulations is to produce a national set of regulations that will apply to all residential landlord- and tenant relationships throughout South Africa.
The Rental Housing Act outlines the duties and powers of the Rental Housing Tribunals. The act also defines the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants logically. It provides the tools to deal with relationships between landlords and tenants and a standard appeal process if needed.
Many of the changes to the Rental Housing Amendment Act will have significant implications for landlords and tenants, according to Gunston Strandvik Attorneys Inc.
The main changes are:
Lease agreements. All lease agreements must now be in writing, and this responsibility falls on the landlord. The Act also outlines the contents that a lease agreement should contain. Any lease agreements that have been verbally agreed upon will no longer be binding.
Deposits. Although landlords are allowed to request deposits from tenants before they move in, they must invest the rental deposit into an interest-bearing account with a financial institution. Tenants, therefore, have the right to receive receipts of all payments made to the landlord as well as proof of interest earned on deposits.
Inspections. Before a tenant moves into a property, the landlord and tenant must inspect the property for any damages and affirm the landlord’s responsibility to fix the problems. It is the landlord’s responsibility to arrange a joint inspection. A list of damages must be attached to the lease agreement upon signing.
Habitable condition. Landlords who rent out properties that are not deemed ‘habitable’ could face up to two years in prison. A property in habitable condition is safe and suitable for living while having adequate space and protection from the elements and other health threats. Tenants also have the right to essential services like water and electricity.
Payments. Tenants are liable to pay rent and other charges such as water and electricity on the agreed-upon date.
Subletting. Tenants are prohibited from subletting the property without the landlord’s consent, which may not be unreasonably withheld.
For peace of mind, landlords and rental agents should consult a legal professional for guidance in complying with the proposed changes.
Tenants and landlords will have six months to comply with the new legislation once the Act is implemented.
Writer : Sarah-Jane Meyer