15 December 2021

One of the hardest jobs facing any landlord is trying to find a suitable tenant. However, a landlord’s responsibilities don't end once the lease is signed. In many ways, this is just the beginning of the relationship. Just as a landlord has certain expectations from their tenants – for example, paying rent on time and honouring the stipulations of the lease agreement – a tenant also has certain expectations from their landlord. Ultimately, renting should be a mutually beneficial agreement where all parties are respected and working towards a harmonious contract. In this basic guide, we take a closer look at some of the most important aspects you will need to bear in mind when entering into a lease agreement.

Landlord Responsibilities in South Africa

In terms of South African legislation, landlords are legally required to perform certain activities. The actions for which they are responsible will vary based on the property’s specifics. Essentially, any rental property also comes with some basic obligations every landlord has to fulfil. These include managing the security deposit appropriately, keeping up with property maintenance, and delivering a vacant unit upon tenant move-in. Here are some other important responsibilities a landlord needs to take care of unless they have enlisted the help of a rental agent who can help them with the following:

  • Ensure that the property is in a reasonable condition when the tenant moves in
  • Ensure that you inspect the property before the tenant moves in
  • Remember to also inspect the property after the tenant has moved out
  • Ensure that a written lease agreement is prepared & signed by both parties
  • Ensure that all payments received are issued with a receipt to the tenant. Your rental agent would handle all correspondence between the landlord and tenants, overseeing invoicing for utilities, water and electricity, as well as rental received.
  • Clarify in writing what maintenance is going to be your responsibility
  • Allow the tenant the right to privacy and to enjoy their home undisturbed
  • Provide adequate notice should you need to enter the property
  • Ensure that you’ve screened your tenants properly
  • Always get arrangements or agreements confirmed in writing
  • Ensure that all repairs to the property are performed timeously
  • Ensure that the premise is safe and secure
  • Disclose any known environmental hazards
  • Ensure that you have adequate building insurance
  • Always try to resolve disputes without lawyers and lawsuits
  • Keep the tenant’s deposit in an interest-bearing account
  • Return the tenant’s deposit to them within 14 days after the lease agreement has ended

Tenant Responsibilities in South Africa

While tenants do not share the same level of responsibility for the property as the landlord does, there are certain responsibilities that the tenant is contractually required to fulfil 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. Here are some of the most important points of which to take note if you’re going to be the one renting a property:

  • Ensure that you always ask for a lease agreement in writing
  • Ensure you have enough budget to pay a deposit
  • Ensure that you inspect the property before moving in
  • Remember to also inspect the property before moving out
  • Clarify in writing what maintenance is going to be your responsibility
  • Ensure that you pay the rent and services on time as per the lease agreement
  • Keep in mind that you cannot withhold rental payments just because you’re not satisfied
  • Early cancellation will depend on the agreed-upon lease agreement details
  • Ensure that you only use the property as per the lease agreement (private residence vs business)
  • Do not sublet or let other people take over the property without your landlord’s agreement
  • Protect and maintain the interior of the property against wear and tear
  • Do not make any changes to the property without your landlord’s agreement

The World’s Leading Real Estate Brand

Each lease agreement is different and will have its own unique nuances. Both Landlords and tenants may approach the Rental Housing Tribunal if there are any disputes to be resolved. To avoid this, it’s always important that tenants and landlords read through their lease agreements carefully to clarify what is expected of them. If at any time you find that anything is unclear, seek the advice of a real estate professional. This will ensure that you’re able to avoid any challenges or disputes during the tenancy. For more real estate advice, get in touch with a professional from the world’s leading real estate brand. Contact your nearest RE/MAX Office today!

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