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Lease Agreement

Lease Agreement Template South Africa

Lease Agreement Template – Free Download

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Lease Agreement Template Free Download

You have rented out your property but now, for whatever reason, you wish to return and take up occupancy. Are you within your rights as the property owner to remove the tenant, and what do you do if they refuse to vacate?

 

What to do if you want to move back into your property while your tenant still has occupancy

There are two issues to consider. Firstly, your tenant is the current lawful inhabitant and you want to serve a notice to quit, so that you can resume occupancy. The process for this is straightforward. Secondly, what if the tenant refuses to leave, despite due legal process of eviction having been followed? This is a different and more complicated scenario. Let’s look at each in turn.

 

Lawful eviction

To some extent, your rights as landlord depend on what is in the lease agreement. (We’ve written before about the importance of having a written lease. See Tips for a happier tenancy and The Consumer Protection Act and rental agreements.) Under PIE, your tenant is protected against illegal eviction. The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) provides a further layer of protection. In terms of the CPA a tenant is protected for the full term of the lease if there is no material breach on their part. The landlord can cancel the lease if there is a material breach of contract by giving 20 business days’ notice of the breach; but the landlord must give the tenant the opportunity to remedy the breach. Provided they do so, you don’t have the right to evict the tenant and move back in until the end of the contract.

However, when drawing up the lease, it is permissible to include a clause allowing the landlord to cancel the lease, with two months’ notice, if the landlord elects to sell the property or move back in. If the tenant agrees to this clause and signs the contract, then there does not need to be a material breach for the landlord to give notice of eviction, nor is the landlord in breach of any aspect of the tenant’s rights. Without this clause, the tenant is protected upon the sale of the property and the sale can have no impact on the tenant’s right to hold the lease until it expires.

So if you are drawing up a lease agreement for a new tenant and you think you may wish to sell the property in future or resume occupancy for your own purposes, it’s probably wise to include a clause of this nature. But what if you have existing tenants and you have legally given them notice to quit the property, within the terms of the lease and the CPA (perhaps there has been an unremedied breach), and they won’t budge? This is a different situation altogether. What can you do?

 

Unlawful occupancy

At this stage the tenant becomes an unlawful occupier. If you have cancelled the lease lawfully you are entitled to move back into your property, even if the unlawful occupier remains on the premises – effectively cohabiting (whether you would want to do this or not is a different matter). The situation can deteriorate and may result in unpleasant consequences for the landlord, even if there is no misconduct. A tenant with nowhere else to go may behave in a desperate manner, even laying charges of theft, harassment or intimidation against the landlord. Or they may insist the landlord find them alternative accommodation. However, it is not the landlord’s responsibility to re-house the tenant, and this has been tested in the courts.

In Blue Moonlight Properties v Occupiers of Saratoga Avenue, the court found that the property owners’ rights, under the Constitution, should be balanced with those of the occupiers, and ruled that the landowners’ right to equality would be infringed if the state were to burden them with providing alternative accommodation without compensation.

This ruling notwithstanding, if you are in this trying situation, it is not enough to know you are in the right, legally. You may need professional help to reclaim your property. You certainly don’t want to find yourself defending an unsubstantiated accusation of harassment, nor do you want to be share your home indefinitely with someone you didn’t invite.

 

We can help with evictions and your lease agreement

SD Law & Associates are experts in property law and we have vast experience of helping landlords and tenants alike reach satisfactory resolution on a wide range of property disputes, including evictions. Let us help you today with your eviction dispute and lease agreement. Contact Simon on 087 550 2740 or email sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za.

 

Lease Agreement – Free Download

Lease Agreement Template – Click here (Right click to save PDF)

 

Recommended reading

Original article taken from SDLaw.co.za

Rental Housing Act

Rental Housing Act Gets Teeth

By | Lease Agreement, Rental Housing Act

Rental Housing Act

 

Rental Housing Act – Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, you will be aware of the legislative environment that protects you when it comes to letting out your property or occupying a property as a tenant. Both parties have rights, and the law seeks to ensure that neither finds their rights abused or ignored. The Rental Housing Act 50 of 1999 sought to regulate the relationship between landlord and tenant. However, because the Act has proven difficult to enforce and thus weak from a practical and statutory standpoint, the Rental Housing Act Amendment 35 of 2014 was enacted. It has yet to be gazetted.

 

The Amendment Act has strengthened the rights and obligations that apply to both landlords and tenants, tightened up the rules surrounding inspections, deposits, the condition of a property and what should be included in the lease; and it has enhanced the powers of the Rental Housing Tribunals. Let’s have a look at these key areas in turn.

  
[h3]Landlord-tenant relationship[/h3]

South Africa is suffering from a severe shortage of quality housing. There are still far too many people living in sub-standard accommodation. The government is committed to promoting rental housing, and has a duty to ensure fair and equitable treatment of tenants, particularly the most vulnerable. However, it also recognises that property owners are entitled to security of their dwellings and have the right to protect their assets from abuse. The provisions of the Act seek to balance these two priorities.

 

  • Deposits: A landlord is entitled to a deposit before a tenant moves in, and this must be held in an interest bearing account . The Act does not stipulate the amount of the deposit, but in practice it is usually equivalent to one month’s rent. The landlord must give the tenant a written receipt for the deposit, and indeed for any other payments made. The tenant may ask the landlord to provide written proof of the interest earned on the deposit; and when the tenant moves out the deposit plus accrued interest must be repaid within seven days.

 

  • Inspection: In an effort to reduce conflict that arises over damages, the Act appears to have borrowed from the car hire industry! Both landlord and tenant must inspect the property together at the beginning of the lease and record any faults. They can decide together if the faults merit repair by the landlord, or if they can just be noted. For example, a leaking shower should be fixed to avoid danger and inconvenience to the tenant and water damage to the property. Scratches on paintwork may be merely registered so the tenant is not held responsible at the end of the lease. When the lease ends, the tenant must be available to conduct a final inspection with the landlord, to identify any damage that may have been caused during the tenancy. The landlord is entitled to deduct the cost of repairs from the deposit.

 

  • Condition of the property: This provision is undoubtedly an attempt to ensure that unscrupulous landlords do not attempt to pass off uninhabitable dwellings to desperate or vulnerable tenants as suitable for occupancy. The property must be ‘habitable’, which is defined as having adequate space and protection from the elements, being safe and secure and structurally sound. A landlord who fails to comply with this requirement can face a criminal charge.

  
[h3]Get it in writing[/h3]

When we’ve written about good letting practice in the past, we’ve advised that a written lease is always a good idea, but it was not previously a requirement in law. The Amendment Act changes that. It is the landlord’s responsibility to provide a written lease contract, and, as with the habitability clause, failure to do so is a criminal offence. The Act stipulates what should appear on the written lease, and this formalises what we have always recommended:

  • The names and addresses of both landlord and tenant;
  • A description of the property;
  • The agreed rent, how much and when it may increase (e.g. by 10% at annual renewal), and the frequency of payment (monthly, quarterly, etc.)
  • The deposit amount;
  • The notice period for quitting the property (applicable to both parties)
  • Information on the rights and obligations of the tenant and landlord, in other words what each party is responsible for, e.g. utilities, maintenance, etc. (usually, tenants pay for charges related to things they use, such as water and electricity, and landlords pays for charges related to the property, such as rates);
  • Information on the amount of any charges the tenant must pay over and above the rental cost;
  • A list of defects drawn up during the joint inspection (mentioned above) when the tenant moves in. This should be signed by both parties and attached to the lease

  
[h3]Who can help?[/h3]

The Amendment Act requires Rental Housing Tribunals to be established in all provinces, however, in the Western Cape we are fortunate to have a fully operational Rental Housing Tribunal. It can advise you of your rights and responsibilities as a landlord, and can help in the event of a dispute with a tenant.

Or contact us. At Simon Dippenaar & Associates we are specialists in property law. We act for both landlords and tenants and therefore know the challenges faced by both parties; and we know the legislation as it affects both sides.
 
Call us now on 087 550 2740 or email sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za if you need help ensuring you comply with the Rental HousingAmendment Act 35 of 2014 when it comes onto the statute books. Don’t leave it until the law is in place.

Let us review your tenancy agreements now and help you draw up written leases where none are in place.

Rental Income - Eviction Lawyer South Africa

Keep your rental income flowing freely

By | Evictions, Lease Agreement, Rent | No Comments

Rental Income - Eviction Lawyer South Africa

 

Have you recently become a landlord? Or maybe you’ve had problems with tenants in the past and want a bit of guidance to avoid trouble in the future? We’ve laid out the key things you need to know when embarking on a rental agreement with a new tenant.

 

Is a formal lease necessary?

 

A written lease is not essential for your agreement to be binding, but it can save a lot of hassle later on and prevent disputes over ‘who said what?’ Putting everything in writing will clarify the terms and conditions of the rental agreement and ensure you have captured all the minutiae that can lead to conflict if not addressed at the outset. Are pets allowed? Can your tenant let the spare room for cash? What date in the month should the rent be paid? A written lease spells everything out so there is no doubt on either side. And if your tenant requests a written lease, you must comply.

We can draw up a lease for you or you can download a standard lease agreement here.

 

What information should be included on a written lease?

 

  • Your name and your tenant’s name
  • Your postal address
  • Your tenant’s postal address
  • The address of the property being leased
  • The agreed rent, the amount of increase and when it may increase (e.g. by 10% at annual renewal) and the frequency of payment (monthly, quarterly, etc.)
  • The amount of any deposit
  • What each party is responsible for, e.g. utilities, maintenance, etc. (usually, tenants pays for charges related to things they use, such as water and electricity, and landlords pays for charges related to the property, such as rates)
  • The notice period for quitting the property (applicable to both parties) and the conditions under which you can end the agreement early (for example, if specific maintenance is not done, or if the tenant is in arrears with the rent)
  • If there are ‘house rules’, such as no loud parties, they should be signed by both parties and attached to the lease
  • A list of defects drawn up during a joint inspection when the tenant moves in. This should be signed by both parties and attached to the lease

 

How does a background check work?

 

You should always ask prospective tenants for references. While it is normal to obtain a reference from the current tenant, it can also be helpful to speak to previous landlords, in case the current landlord gives a good reference simply to get rid of an undesirable tenant. You should also request a letter from the tenant’s employer to verify his employment status and income. You can also do an ITC credit check (call TransUnion ITC on 0861 482 482 or visit www.transunionitc.co.za) or we can carry that out for you.

 

What about a deposit?

 

A deposit is your insurance against your tenant defaulting on the rent or damaging your property beyond normal wear and tear. A deposit must be put in an interest-bearing account for the duration of the tenancy and given back to your tenant, plus the interest it has earned, when the tenant moves out. But the deposit can legally be retained and used to pay for repairs or to cover the money owed to you in the event of non-payment of rent.

 

What if the tenant is behind with the rent?

 

Technically, your tenant is in breach of contract. Your lease should have a breach clause in it; this is the time to enforce it. If you don’t have a cancellation agreement or breach clause in the lease, or if you want to give your tenant a reasonable chance to put things right, it is good practice to write a letter giving your tenant seven days to pay, failing which you will cancel the lease. We can draft the letter and send it on your behalf. Many tenants will take a ‘lawyer’s letter’ more seriously than one from the landlord alone!

 

What is the eviction process?

 

A landlord may not evict a tenant. You may seek a court order to evict a tenant if your tenant is in breach of contract, for example if the rent has not been paid. However, we would urge you to encourage the tenant to rectify the breach. In fact the Consumer Protection Act allows for this. Legal action is the last resort and, however justified, is never pleasant, especially where someone’s home is involved, so it is always advisable to give the tenant the opportunity to put things right.

 

What if there is damage to the property?

 

There will always be normal wear and tear. More serious damage can be repaired out of the deposit, if you asked for one. These steps will ensure a fair process for both parties:

  • When your tenant moves in, inspect the property together and list, in writing, any existing defects – you should both sign this and attach it to the lease agreement
  • When your tenant moves out, inspect the property again together, preferably just before moving day. Compare the two lists
  • Either of you can do the repairs. If you decide to do them yourself, keep all receipts for repairs paid for out of the deposit. Your tenant is entitled to see them
  • If the repairs cost less than the deposit plus the interest earned, you must repay the balance to your tenant

 

Who can help?

 

The Rental Housing Tribunal can advise you of your rights and responsibilities as a landlord and can help in the event of a dispute with a tenant.

Or contact us. At Simon Dippenaar & Associates we are specialists in property law. We act for both landlords and tenants and therefore know the challenges faced by both parties; and we have an intimate knowledge of the legislation from both sides.

 

Call us now on 087 550 2740 or email sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za if you need help drawing up a lease or handling a difficult situation with an existing tenant.