Rental Housing Act Amendment of 2014
South Africa’s National Assembly recently tabled the new Rental Housing Amendment Bill of 2014 which stipulates that both tenants and landlords need to enter into a written lease agreement. The aim of this amendment is to ensure the protection of both the landlord and the tenant’s interests and rights.
This amendment differs from the original Rental Housing Act of 1999, which allows landlords to rent a residential property out to a tenant without a written lease agreement, unless one was required by the tenant.
The intention is to attempt to put an end to factors like the charging of additional and unwarranted bills by landlords.
The amendment specifies that all charges including rental and utilities will need to be fully outlined in the lease agreement. This ensures that related duties and obligations are spelt out accurately to avoid disputes, and provide recourse for parties when necessary.
Furthermore, the bill states that landlords will need to provide their tenants with accommodation or housing of satisfactory size; whilst providing the tenant as well as his visitors with suitable protection from outside elements.
This implies a structurally sound dwelling that allows for the safety of everyone inside.
The act itself has five main objectives:
- To protect the rights and interests of tenants and landlords across the country from illegal acts by one or the other party.
- Educate both parties about their rights as well as their responsibilities, which will be outlined in the lease agreement.
- Provide legal routes which allow for the quick resolution of any disputes arising from the lease agreement.
- To promote the provision of rental property throughout South Africa.
- Improve the often strained relationships between both tenants and landlords nationally.
What does the act mean for Landlords?
Landlords will now have additional weight placed on their shoulders, ensuring that they meet the necessary terms outlined by the newly amended act.
Building as well as planning regulations will need to be strictly adhered to.
Any unjust fees being imposed by landlords on their tenants will need to be done away with permanently.
Structural stability of all rented properties will fall under the spotlight; those properties that do not meet the necessary requirements will need to be altered, falling in line with the act.
Lease agreements are now required for all rental purposes. These will usually have to be drawn up at the landlord’s expense.
The act will also help landlords protect their properties against malicious damage caused by tenants, since reasonable rules and regulations are to be inserted into lease agreements.
What does the act mean for tenants?
Tenants will be required to sign a lease agreement drawn up by the landlord which outlines various rules, regulations and rental fees amongst other things.
All tenants will need to fall in line with the rules and regulations within the lease agreements that they’ve signed.
What role does government have to play?
The amendment to the bill will allow the Human Settlements Minister develop a standardised contract which will contain all of the minimal requirements of a lease.
This document can then be used as a template or a guide by tenants and landlords who have not had the opportunity to draw one up before.
This service will be especially valuable in low-income areas where neither tenants nor landlords will have access to the sort of funds required to hire an attorney to draw one up.
Government will also stand to generate considerable income with this amendment as the formalisation of the property rental industry will make it much easier to tax.
A study conducted by Urban Landmark revealed that 2.4 million households around the country rent their principal accommodation. Estimates show that government can make around R5 billion every year from the taxation of the property rental industry.
Commentary above via Greg Harris CEO Chas Everitt Property Rentals Group
Author: Greg Harris