Rental Housing - SA Rental Property Amendment Bill Update

The long anticipated Rental Housing Amendment bill will begin a renewed process through Parliament. When this bill is enacted, it will have far-reaching consequences for the rental market.

Some of these are:

  • It will be mandatory to establish a Rental Housing Tribunal (RHT) in each province.
  • More importantly, there will have to be a Rental Housing Information office in each municipality.
  • These offices will be responsible for advising tenants and landlords on their rights and obligations in terms of rental agreements
  • There will also be an appeals process in terms of the new bill.
  • Parties who are not saitisfied with a ruling issued by a Tribunal may refer such a ruling to an Appeals Authority [appointed by the MEC for human settlements in a particular Province].
  • Rules will be established to avoid frivolous appeals.

Section 4 of the Principal Act has been streamlined to define the rights and obligations of both tenants and landlords. For this purpose the section has been split into section 4A and 4B.

The salient features of 4A [rights and obligations of tenants] are:

1) A tenant has the right to receive a written receipt from the landlord for all payments received by the landlord from the tenant, which receipt must—

(a) be dated;

(b) clearly indicate the address, including the street number and further description, if necessary, of a dwelling in respect of which payment is made;

(c) indicate whether payment has been made for rental, arrears, deposit and

(d) specify the period for which payment is made.

2) A tenant may request the landlord during the period of the lease to provide him or her with written proof in respect of interest accrued on the deposit paid.

3) A tenant has the right to receive payment of the deposit plus any interest accrued to such deposit without any deduction or set-off, within seven days of expiration of the lease.

4) A tenant has the right to privacy.

5) The tenant’s rights as against the landlord include his or her right not to have—

(a) his or her person or dwelling searched;

(b) his or her possessions searched and seized, except in terms of a law of general application and having first obtained a ruling by a Tribunal or an order of court; or

(c) the privacy of his or her communications infringed.

6) A tenant is liable for rental and other costs agreed upon in the lease upon the due date, but for costs other than those agreed to in the lease, the tenant is only liable upon proof of factual expenditure by the landlord.

7) A tenant may not sublet a dwelling without the consent of the landlord which consent may not be unreasonably withheld.

The salient features of 4B [rights and obligations of landlords] are:

1) A landlord may require a tenant, before moving into the dwelling, to pay a deposit which—

(a) may not exceed an amount equivalent to an amount specified in the lease or otherwise agreed upon between the parties;

(b) must be invested by the landlord in an interestbearing account with a financial institution: Provided that the rate applicable to such account may not be less than the rate applicable to a savings account with that financial institution;

2) Upon request from the tenant during the period of the lease, the landlord must provide him or her with written proof in respect of interest accrued on the deposit provided that where the landlord is a registered estate agent as provided for in the Estate Agency Affairs Act, 1976 (Act No. 112 of 1976), the deposit and any interest thereon shall be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of that Act.

3) May apply such deposit and interest towards the payment of all amounts for which the tenant is liable under the lease, including the reasonable cost of repairing damage to the dwelling during the lease period and the cost of replacing lost keys, if any, and the balance of the deposit and interest, if any, must then be refunded by the landlord to the tenant not later than 14 days of restoration of the dwelling to the landlord

Other features of the amendment bill are:

  • The Minister of Human Settlements will publish national regulations [norms and standards] applicable to all Tribunals instead of the current system where each MEC has the responsibility to ensure that regulations for their Provinces are in place.
  • Allow for the expansion of the Tribunal so that more cases can be heard and thus reduce the time to resolve a dispute.

The Bill has passed through the Parliamentary process in March 2014 however it has lapsed in terms of rule 298 and on 26 August 2014 the process has been revived. It is envisaged that this process would be finalized by 9 September 2014. We will keep you posted on the promulgation of the Bill.

In future we will publish regular updates on policy changes that will result from the implementation of the Amendment Bill, once it is promulgated.

Source: Arno Botha

Western Cape Rental Housing Tribunal

Courtesy: The Estate Agency Affairs Board

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