Thursday, November 15

Landlords must follow process

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Landlords dealing with tenants who do not pay rent must remember their tenancy agreement is a business transaction.

Landlords dealing with tenants who do not pay rent must remember their tenancy agreement is a business transaction.

Tenants can make many empty promises and landlords must leave emotion out of the situation, at least to a point, says Sunell Afrika, rentals manager for SAProperty.com.

As soon as there is a breach in the contract, such as not paying rent or going against other conditions stipulated, landlords have the right to put their tenants “on terms”, notifying them he will cancel the lease. This warning should be in the form of a written letter to remedy the breach within the time frame stipulated under the breach of contract section of the lease, or 20 days, according to the Consumer Protections Act.

“If the tenant does not remedy the breach in full, the landlord can start the process of cancelling the lease.”

If the lease is cancelled but the tenant refuses to move out, the landlord can start the eviction process. However, he cannot lock the tenants out. Nor can he enter the premises and claim items that belong to the tenant to sell in lieu of rent that is due.

It can take time to evict a tenant, and an attorney must apply for an eviction order. Notices will then be served on the tenant and the local municipality and after 14 days’ notice, a hearing will take place.

“The tenant will state his case at the hearing,” she says, adding that courts will grant the eviction order only after considering all circumstances and establishing what is just.

Afrika says conducting the correct checks before signing a lease can reduce risk.

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