Responsibilities of the tenant

Responsibilities of the tenant

Private Property South Africa

While tenants do not share the same level of responsibility for the home as the landlord does, there are certain responsibilities that the tenant is contractually required to adhere to while living in the property. The rental agreement will outline the responsibilities of both the tenant and the landlord as well as the consequences if these are not met.

“One of the perks of being a tenant is that the cost of owning and maintaining the home does not fall on you. Even though a lease agreement has been signed, the property remains the landlord’s responsibility. That means that if a pipe bursts, for example, the landlord will need to pay to have a plumber come out to fix the problem. However, this does not mean that tenants have no responsibility towards the general maintenance and upkeep of the home,” explains Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett.

In most lease agreements, tenants are required to alert the landlord of any issues that arise in the home, such as a leaky faucet or if dampness appears on the walls, for example.

If a tenant fails to alert the landlord of these issues, the landlord may be entitled to deduct from the tenant’s rental deposit any expenses incurred to repair any damage to the property which occurred during the tenancy owing to neglect or misuse on the part of the tenant.

For this reason, many lease agreements also stipulate that, while landlords need to be respectful of the tenant’s rights and their privacy, tenants need to allow for regular home inspections to take place during their tenancy.

These must be at the tenant’s convenience, but a tenant cannot refuse to allow the landlord or managing agent entry to the property or obstruct them from properly conducting the inspection.

According to RE/MAX of Southern Africa, other typical responsibilities of a tenant include (but are not limited to):

  • Ensuring that all rental payments clear in the landlord or managing agent’s account by the stipulated dates in the lease agreement.
  • Being cooperative with access for contractors or inspections so that the home can be reasonably maintained/repaired.
  • Ensuring that their conduct is in line with the regulations as laid out by Body Corporates or HOAs in a Sectional Title Scheme.
  • Ensuring that their behaviour does not lead to complaints from neighbours.
  • Reasonably maintaining the property. This includes keeping the home clean and the garden well-maintained (unless a cleaning and/or garden service is provided for by the landlord and is stipulated as such in the lease agreement).
  • Alerting the landlord to any repair work as it arises.

“While it is the landlord’s responsibility to address any major repair work, tenants should be reasonable and understand that the agent or landlord cannot be obliged to attend to any and every small maintenance item, such as a burst light bulb or a loose screw on a door hinge. Fixing these small items yourself will help you gain favour with the landlord, which could prove helpful when it comes to negotiating annual rent escalations,” Goslett advises.

As a final word of advice, Goslett warns that each lease agreement is different and will have its own unique nuances.

“Tenants are advised to read through their lease agreement carefully to understand what is expected of them. If they are unclear of anything stated therein, they should seek the advice of a real estate professional to ensure that they avoid any issues during their tenancy,” he concludes.

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