A lot of times a law office is consulted by landlords with questions relating to the rental of their residential properties to tenants. In this article, we will be discussing a few of the most commonly asked questions.

It is true that is much less of a hassle and risk if you approach a professional registered estate agent with a good reputation to do the rental for you, but should you decide on renting the property out yourself, it is important to protect yourself as much as possible against losses.

It is important to know that, although a verbal agreement will also be binding, it is vital for the protection of both parties rights to rather approach a legal practitioner to draft a proper lease agreement. This will help to prevent future disputes and also help ease with the eviction process, should your tenants fail to pay.  A legal practitioner will also ensure that all the correct information is contained in the agreement.

The agreement will also contain vital information regarding under which circumstances you, as the landlord, or your tenant can give notice to terminate the lease.  All defects must also preferably be mentioned in the lease or signed as an addendum to it.  This list must be compiled during a joint inspection when the tenant moves into the property.

This should be signed by both you and your tenant and attached to the lease.

To minimize your risk to inherit tenants with a bad track record for paying, it is a good idea to ask for references from previous landlords, to confirm your tenant’s employment by means of a letter from his employer. Your legal practitioner can also check the potential tenant’s credit record at a minimal fee. Please remember to obtain the potential tenant’s written permission to do the credit check.

 A deposit is always imperative to protect you as the landlord against damages to your property and also non-payment. The deposit should be kept in an interest-bearing account for the duration of the lease. Also, ensure that the entry and exit inspections are properly executed to enable you to deduct money for any damages. Your legal practitioner can properly advise you on this issue.

Taking your tenant’s possessions or changing the locks if the rent is arrears is ALWAYS a terrible idea

It is imperative to approach a legal practitioner to assist you to obtain a court order to attach the tenant’s property for the amount due for the rent. Should you take the law into your own hands and take your tenant’s property, you may possibly be charged with theft and have endless problems. 

Should you change the locks, get unwanted guests to move in or remove the roof or doors, you might end up paying your tenant’s legal fees and have him or her return to the property.  It is vital to rather follow the correct legal route and protect yourself. You may not evict a tenant yourself. The manner in which your lease can be lawfully terminated will depend on the termination clause in your lease agreement (see how important it is to have a properly drafted lease agreement?)

Should the tenant be in breach of the agreement, you can follow the steps as contained in the agreement. Should this not bring you joy, you will be able to take legal action by either approaching a legal practitioner or the Rental Housing Tribunal.

We will be examining some more commonly faced problems in one of our next articles.

Adrie Wahl attorneys

Tel.: (018) 0111832

15 Siddle Street, Klerksdorp

Email.: info@avslaw.co.za

References for this article: Adrie Wahl

                                                Rental Housing Tribunal Western Cape

An example of a checklist:*

https://www.afhco.co.za/wp-content/uploads/Residential-Tenants-Checklist-2013.pdf

Please note that this example, as well as this article, is informational only. Always consult with your legal practitioner personally for legal advice.