Tenancies and deposit handling

Private Property South Africa
Michael Bauer

All landlords are entitled to take a deposit as security from their tenant, said Michael Bauer, general manager of IHFM, the property management company, and he says, from one month to two months’ rent as a deposit is a good amount. This way, if the tenants do not keep the property in the condition in which it was received or fails to pay, the landlord might have enough funds from which to deduct the repair or cleaning costs.

On the other hand, the tenant should, if they want to protect their deposit, keep the property in the state in which it was received, save for normal wear and tear.

The interest accrued on the deposit held must be added to the deposit refund to the tenant at the end of the lease.

A landlord can claim for things in or on the property that are damaged by the tenants themselves or their guests, for cleaning expenses, for example, if the carpets were clean when the tenant moved in but on moving out there are pet or beverage stains on the carpets. The importance of an incoming and outgoing inspection is imperative to ensure a record of the state of the property before the new tenant moved in and after he moved out.

Landlords can deduct money from the deposit refund if it found that there is an amount outstanding on the water bill or other services not paid for. If items from the house have gone missing, such as door handles, access cards, or keys, the tenant is responsible for the cost of replacing these. Obviously, if there is still unpaid rent, this, too, can be deducted from the deposit.

It is very important, said Bauer, that before a tenant moves into the unit being let out that a condition report is completed. Ideally the landlord (or his agent) and the tenant should walk through the property together noting items that are not in “perfect” order or things that need to be replaced before the keys are handed over. If possible, take photos of the rooms, so that you have proof of the condition of the rooms and attach these photos to the lease agreement, this will help if there are disagreements later. You also should allow the tenant three days to remedy any damages before commissioning any repairs and always obtain more than one quote.

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