Tenant obligations: 7 useful guidelines for first-time tenants

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A happy tenant-landlord relationship is dependent on a give-and-take philosophy, where both parties recognise their individual duties or responsibilities as well as their rights. This also holds true for any legally binding agreement between two parties. These obligations and rights should be clearly covered in the lease agreement containing all the respective terms and conditions governing the relationship.
Chas Everitt Property Rentals offers property solutions for tenants with varying needs and budgets, countrywide. We chatted with Greg Harris, CEPR’s CEO, who indicated that “The ethos underlying the group’s ambition to deliver world class solutions is based on adding ultimate value to landlords and tenants.” This article has been written with this in mind, for the benefit of tenants, particularly those who are leasing for the first time. Renting a home, apartment or outbuilding is unlike leasing any other asset. Therefore, in order to ensure that your experience as a tenant is as positive as possible you would need to gain some basic insight. This article will cover seven main areas of responsibility as a tenant:    
Lease Agreement
The landlord provides the lease agreement and there is usually a nominal lease fee which is charged to the tenant unless otherwise agreed.
Rental deposit
Upon signature, the rental deposit plus first month’s rent is usually paid over to the landlord or to the estate agency’s account if it is a managed lease. Although the deposit is requested at the discretion of the homeowner, for obvious reasons it is almost always required.
Barry Davies, Franchising Director at Chas Everitt International Property Group elaborated here stating, “In fact, the norm is a deposit equal to two month’s rent. This generally averts an age-old problem that has afflicted many landlords. And that is the notion or inclination that some tenants have had, whereby the last month’s rent is not paid over with the intention of setting off against the rental deposit.”   
Rental payments
For the duration of the lease, each month in advance, your agreed rental amount becomes payable. This is normally on the first of the month and late payments may incur interest and penalties.
Depending on the terms discussed, the tenant may be liable for specific costs such as water and electricity. This would thus be over and above the rental payment. The landlord would be obliged to furnish the tenant with the respective bills and the payment thereof would be as per details stipulated in the lease.
Rates, taxes and levies
These are usually catered to completely by the landlord, although standard leases generally include the option to transfer some of these costs to the tenant - in the eventuality of unexpected municipal increases and so forth. In reality, these costs seldom crop up as ancillary expenses, unless specifically discussed that tenant will be responsible for part of these costs.
General Property Maintenance
General maintenance of the property falls in the ambit of the landlord or landlord’s insurer if adequate cover is in place. So, provided the damage is not caused by an act of the tenant and the tenant has not agreed to cover such expenses, then repairs relating to paintwork, plumbing, ceilings, fittings, doors and windows will fall in this category.

There may be cases where a repair is urgent and if the landlord consents then the tenant can use his or her own provider to tend to the work, for example in the case of a running tap. The invoice can then be submitted to the landlord for reimbursement. Additional installations and fittings need to be first authorised by the property owner and in these situations the cost is borne by the tenant. If it is an irremovable improvement to the property, then tenant can request that the landlord consider coming in for half the expense or a portion thereof.
Lastly here, it is the tenant’s responsibility to ensure that the property is returned in the same state as at inception. Damages or losses established at the final inspection will warrant the landlord to deduct such costs from the rental deposit. Should the landlord not recover the amount for outstanding fees such as rental and repair expenses, then the landlord can proceed with legal action.
Property Use
It is the tenant’s responsibility to use the property for the consented purpose of stay for the agreed number of occupants. If this is violated in any way or if there is misrepresentation then the landlord can cancel the lease and proceed with recoveries as well as possible legal action.

Chas Property Rentals Umhlanga's Client Service Manager, Paula Rowntree, commented here that “We have found that these issues can be avoided when the vetting and lease management processes have been efficiently executed. Our property management services take the burden off the shoulders of busy homeowners, and in doing so ensure that the entire tenanting process is as smooth as possible. This means that any issues that could arise are either mitigated or addressed effectively as and when needed by our property professionals.”  
 However, it terms of contract law, the terms and conditions of the lease will come down to what was eventually presented and accepted when the agreement was concluded. Even though tenants do have recourse in the event that some of the terms may conflict with the law, for instance, it is certainly best to avoid this undesirable path.

The above article is intended as a brief overview of tenants’ primary obligations in respect of these seven components and should not be considered as anything other than an "overview".
Chas Everitt Property Rentals, leading the way
CEPR is committed to ensuring optimum service based on quality solutions for your unique needs. Julie Pillay, Manager of CEPR’s Long Term Letting Division in Umhlanga emphasised the group’s dedication to service. “Our systems as an organisation are designed around delivering personalised rental solutions as efficiently as possible, which is why we subscribe to ongoing training as well as employ cutting edge tools of the trade to aid us. It is no surprise, therefore, that our database of satisfied tenants is growing by the day,” said Julie Pillay.
If you are seeking professional guidance and help in finding the ideal home or apartment to rent, then look no further than our experienced rental specialists. Simply call on us today and one of our helpful personnel will gladly assist.
For professional assistance, don’t hesitate to contact our offices today.

Author: Barry Davies

Submitted 11 Sep 16 / Views 1920