Frenquently Asked Questions

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Q: When must my rental deposit be refunded by?

A Tenants property damages deposit must be refunded within 7 days if no repairs required. If repairs are needed to rectify any damage, the deposit must be refunded within 14 days of restoration of the property, i.e. the landlord must action the repairs and refund the tenant within 14 days of repairs being finalised.  The landlord or agent may not however take their own sweet time with finalising repairs – if a landlord or agents drags their heels with effecting repairs the Tribunal could rule that the deposit be refunded.

Q: How much deposit is payable by tenant?

On unfurnished property the minimum deposit is one and a half month's of the monthly rental, payable on signature of the lease agreement. This can increase e.g. if you have pets the landlord may ask for additional deposit, and if the property is furnished usually a double deposit is required.

Q: How is the tenants deposit held?

The tenant's damages deposit is held in Trust for the duration of the lease in accordance with the Rental Housing Act, and all interest accrues to the Tenant.

Q: What notice can I give to terminate a lease, and are there penalties?

Tenants may give 20 business day’s notice at any point in the contracted period (term of lease agreement) subject to reasonable cancellation penalty, which in terms of the CPA can be determined by the amount still owed on the contract (value of the agreement), costs incurred by the landlord to re-let e.g. agent’s fees, etc.

If the landlord/agent were unable to conclude a new lease with a suitable, qualified tenant you would be still be liable for rental. It's a bit of a dependent condition, as you are entitled to give notice but in terms of the Act can still be liable for the contracted amount.

Q: What is considered Fair Wear and Tear?

Fair wear and tear means damage or loss to an item at the property which happens as a result of ordinary use and exposure over time. See article on Fair Wear and Tear and what the landlord may and may not deduct from rental deposit:

Q: The tenants have vacated now and there are some marks remaining on the carpeting after cleaning – is this considered wear and tear?

If the carpets had been new at commencement of the lease it would be fair to consider penalising tenants after 1 year if they didn't come up clean as new carpets have a form of protection shield, i.e. like a 'scotchguard' but, as we’re told, over time after they've been cleaned they lose that protection and everyday wear especially in high traffic areas 'stains' that much easier and doesn't come out easily, or at all – this would therefore be considered fair wear and tear. For some good guidelines on "What is Fair Wear and Tear in a Rented Property" see our article

Q: Am I obliged to install an alarm as requested by new tenant applicant?

You will find it difficult to let a property and/or achieve your asking rental without at least the basic security of alarm and burglar bars.  Also, lack of security will affect the tenant’s insurance, further making the tenant disqualify your property as a rental option.

Q: Can my tenant afford the rent?

A: Excellent question! A tenant's income needs to be 3 x the rental in order to qualify.   Before any application is proposed to the owner the prospective tenant’s income is evaluated for affordability, i.e. Income vs Expenditure.  Sometimes the prospective tenant receives a fantastic income, but ultimately does not qualify and therefore not a suitable applicant.  An agent will look at loans they may have, account payments, child maintenance (if divorced), school fees, car repayments, general expenses.  The bank statements show a complete picture of how tenants conduct their income and expenditure and their current rental payments.

Q: Does a landlord have a right to enter unannounced?

A:  A Landlord may not enter a rental property with notice to the tenant. The tenant has protection against a landlord’s intrusions - in terms of the Rental Housing Act the tenant is entitled to undisturbed use and enjoyment of the property and the lease agreement will state the required notice which needs to be given to the tenant for access for inspection purposes, usually 24 hours notice is considered reasonable and fair.

Q: When may a Landlord cancel a Lease Agreement?

The only instance in which a landlord may cancel a lease agreement is if the tenant is in material breach of the contract despite being given 20 days written notice to remedy a breach. If the matter is rectified by the tenant within the 20-day notice period they are entitled to continue with the lease. The 20-day notice period is a provision of the Consumer Protection Act (prior to this legislation tenants could be required to remedy a breach within 7 days).

Q: What is a Landlord’s Hypothec?

A: If a tenant is in arrear with rental the Landlord may exercise his rights in terms of Landlord’s Hypothec by attaching the tenant’s goods. This cannot be done without a court order. Basically it is an action taken by the landlord to collect outstanding rental by means of selling the tenants goods.
The summons and the attachment of the goods may take place simultaneously to avoid the tenant from removing his goods before the hypothec takes effect.

Q: How do I evict a tenant in South Africa?

A:  In order to evict a tenant in South Africa one needs to first issue the tenant with a letter of demand/breach letter giving them 20 working days to remedy the breach (this letters need to be posted registered mailed and can also be hand delivered, and/or emailed to the tenant). If the tenant does not comply, i.e. remedy the breach, within 20 working days one should immediately instruct the attorney to start the eviction process. The eviction process, if undefended, should take approx 3 months.  

Q: How long does it take to evict a tenant in South Africa?

A:  An undefended tenant eviction should take approximately 3 months so it’s important to promptly put a tenant to terms if their rental payment is late in order to start the eviction process as quickly as possible after giving them, in writing, the required 20 business days to remedy the breach.


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