Once the Rental Housing Amendment Act 35 of 2014 has been signed into law, landlords and tenants will have six months to comply with the new legislation.
What does the new Act stipulate?
The Rental Housing Amendment Act regulates the relationship between a tenant and landlord. The position herein is that the landlord must provide the tenant with a habitable dwelling, namely one that is safe and suitable for living. This is regulated by s16 (aB) of the Act. In the event of a landlord not complying with s16 (aB), he/she will be guilty of an offence and will be liable for a fine and/or imprisonment.
Payments and interest on deposits
Moreover, the tenant has the right to receive written receipt of all payments received. A tenant may also request a receipt in respect of all interest accrued on the deposit and this has to be paid within seven (7) days after the expiration of the lease. Failure to pay said deposit to the tenant is a criminal offence.
Damages incurred to property and inspections
In the case that damage costs are not agreed upon in the lease agreement, the tenant will only be liable if there is factual expenditure. Furthermore, a joint inspection must be held with the tenant and landlord before the tenant moves in, in order to determine damages in respect of the dwelling. The tenant must request a joint inspection three (3) days before the expiration of the lease to determine damage caused during occupancy. This is to ensure that the deposit cannot be withheld by the landlord after expiration of the lease agreement.
Lease agreements have to be in writing
In relation to lease agreements, the Act states that they have to be in writing. In the event of the landlord not complying, he/she could be guilty of an offence and will be liable for a fine and/or imprisonment. Therefore, the onus rests on the landlord to ensure that the lease agreement is reduced to writing.
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