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A clear lease will avoid chance of ugly disputes

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A verbal agreement is technically legal, but it can be difficult to prove so put it all down in writing.

Signing a lease agreement could be one of the biggest housing commitments one makes, next to buying a property.

Once signed, a lease is a legal binding agreement between a landlord and a tenant, and its contents need to be strictly adhered to and understood.

Glenda Taylor, Greeff Rentals principal, says it is advisable for lease agreements to be in writing. Verbal agreements are technically legal, but can be very difficult to prove should a dispute arise.

“No modifications or additions are allowed outside the original lease agreement, unless mutually agreed by both parties and included as an addendum.”

Taylor says good, stable tenants who care for their rental properties and pay on time are regularly not given the consideration they deserve.

Both parties should feel the benefit of the lease agreement.

Disputes sometimes arise when it is time for a tenant to vacate a property, particularly when the landlord has to repay the deposit. Taylor says if there is no damage to the property once the tenant has moved, and provided an outgoing inspection was done together with the tenant, the deposit plus interest should be refunded within seven days of the tenant leaving.

Other stipulations that must be included in a lease agreement are:

  • The names and addresses of both landlord and tenant.
  • A description and full address of the property.
  • The rental amount and a reasonable escalation clause.
  • The deposit amount, to be held in an interest-bearing account, with interest to accrue to the tenant.
  • Frequency of rental payments.
  • The lease period.
  • The landlord’s obligations and the tenant’s obligations.
  • Any additional costs payable by the tenant.
  • A list of defects on the property.
  • House rules if the property is part of a sectional title.
  • If furnished, a detailed inventory must be provided by the landlord and noted as an annexure.
  • Marriage status of both parties.
  • Whether there is a fixed-term lease, and if so is the landlord and/or tenant a natural or juristic person in terms of the Consumer Protection Act.

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