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Landlords will need help as rental law changes

Some amendments to the Rental Housing Act about to be passed by parliament will make it all the more necessary for residential landlords to seek professional help to manage their properties.

This is the word from Andrew Schaefer, MD of national property management company Trafalgar, who said the amendments will mean that every property lease has to be in writing and has to be correctly drafted to comply with statutory requirements.

“This alone is a major departure from the current Act, which states that a lease only needs to be in writing if the tenant requires it and has led to many thousands of tenants and landlords, especially in informal housing settlements, living without any sort of legal document stipulating what their respective rights and responsibilities may be,” said Schaefer.

landlords rental law

However, most landlords do not have the know-how to draft a fully compliant lease themselves — nor the time to handle the many other administrative tasks imposed by the Rental Housing Act. These include the issuing of detailed receipts for every payment made by the tenant, the management of tenants’ deposits and provision of proof of the interest earned on these deposits as well as receipts for damages repaired, and the organisation and documentation of inspections every time a tenant moves in or out.

To comply with the amendments, landlords will need help from professional rental property managers with access to standardised documentation, automated administration systems and, if necessary, advice from specialist attorneys, said Schaefer.

The Rental Housing Amendment Bill, due to be enacted later this year, will also make it mandatory for landlords to provide tenants and their households with safe, weatherproof, accommodation of adequate size; to keep the property in a state of good repair and, where possible ‘to facilitate the provision of utilities to the property’.

Schaefer said this clause is obviously intended to prevent people from letting backyard structures that violate most building and planning regulations, ‘but it also applies to landlords in the formal sector and holds the potential for serious disputes if their tenants and properties are not regularly monitored and inspected by professional rental property managers’.

Article written in the REKORD (Pretoria East), Page 14,  8 Aug 2014

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