Landlord Obligations in Terms of Maintenance
Category Rental Articles
As a landlord, you need to ensure that the property you are leasing is habitable and fit for the purpose for which it is let.
1. It is reasonable to assume that, as it is a dwelling for human habitation, the property would contain a working geyser. If the tenant takes occupation and upon moving in notices that the geyser is leaking in plain view and rusted. It is natural to assume that the geyser is not in a working condition, as a landlord not only are you going to have to maintain the property to a satisfactory standard, but you are going to have to bear the cost of repairs of any major fixtures on the properties. If the geyser bursts, it is the responsibility of the landlord to rectify the fault and the landlord cannot escape this obligation by inserting a clause to the contrary in the lease. In the past, many landlords did not take fair wear and tear of the property into consideration and many assumed that any repairs carried out on the property after a tenant had vacated were for the tenant's account. If, for example, a tenant resides in a property for some years and the exterior needs to be painted, the owner cannot hold the tenant responsible for the cost. Obviously, if the tenant wilfully damaged the exterior paintwork this will have a different outcome.
2. What does the Rental Housing Act state? It clearly states that the tenant and landlord must jointly, before the tenant moves into the dwelling, inspect it to ascertain the existence of any defects or damage. This is to determine the landlord's responsibility for rectifying any defects or damage or to register any defects or damage. The act also provides for the list of defects to be subsequently attached to the lease. The landlord is obliged to provide premises reasonably fit for the purpose for which the premises are let in return for the rental received.
3. What is landlord responsible for, and the recourse tenants have? The regulations to the Act place a duty on the landlord to maintain electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems among other things. Subsequently, the Rental and all other amounts payable had to be paid on time, monthly in advance, "without any deduction or set-off whatsoever". Therefore, the tenant is not authorised or able to proceed with any repairs until they have received the approval from the landlord. In the case of having a managing agent such as Seeff Blouberg managing on the landlord's behalf this same principle applies. As a managing agent, we may not authorise or approve any repairs without the consent of the owner. We do however recommend that our landlords allow us a reasonable maintenance budget for repairs per incident in the event of the agent not being able to each to the landlord in case of an emergency.
When choosing Seeff Blouberg to manage your property, we ensure that we use trained professionals to handle the ingoing inspection with the tenant to make a record of all faults and compile a detailed report, necessary repairs are then facilitated through our maintenance division. We also have a dedicated accounts department who will facilitate the payments of these repairs, ensuring a smooth and streamlined process.
Author: Nancy Oeschger