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Wednesday Feb 19, 2014

Details to incorporate into a lease contract

Last week we noted one of the proposed amendments in the Rental Housing Amendment Bill that would significantly change how parties enter into lease contracts.

All leases must be in writing within the guidelines to be published by the Minister of Human Settlements, Connie September.

Apart from the guidelines, the lease must contain the following information set out in subsection 6:

  • The names of the tenant and the landlord and their addresses in South Africa for purposes of formal communication.

  • The description of the dwelling which is the subject of the lease.

  • Amount of rental of the dwelling and reasonable escalation, if any, to be paid in terms of the lease.

  • If rentals are not paid monthly, then the frequency of rental payments.

  • The amount of the deposit, if any.

  • The lease period, or, if there is no lease period determined, the notice period requested for termination of the lease.

  • Obligations of the tenant and the landlord, which must not detract from the provisions of subsection (3) or the regulations relating to unfair practice.

  • The amount of the rental, and any other charges payable in addition to the rental in respect of the property.

    It would be prudent to include a mandatory clause that any change or alteration verbally made to the lease must be reduced to writing (non-variation clause) for such change or alteration to be valid.

    In the event of a dispute, neither tenants nor the landlords can claim that he or she had agreed to certain changes verbally. In other words, this clause states that any variation to the lease agreement would be of no effect unless reduced to writing.

    'The rule is that when a contract has once been reduced to writing, no evidence may be given of its terms except the document itself, nor may the contents of such document be contradicted, altered, added or varied by oral evidence.'

    It would be necessary for the minister to apply her mind to the contents of the proforma lease agreement she is required to publish for landlords and tenants.

    More importantly, the proforma lease, together with the unfair and procedural regulations, should be promulgated with the amended act.

    Tenant Issues
    Daily News
    Dr Sayed Iqbal Mohamed
    Chairman, Organisation of Civic Rights

    For tenants' rights' advice, contact Loshni Naidoo or Pretty Gumede at 031 304 6451.

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