Friday, April 19

New rent laws in the pipeline

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Serious repercussions for offences, landlords need to pay careful attention.

The Rental Housing Amendment Act 35 has been on the cards for some time, and once it is in place, landlords and tenants will have six months to comply with the new legislation.

No date has been set for implementation but many experts believe it is imminent, says HouseMe chief executive Ben Shaw.

And with serious repercussions for offences, landlords need to pay careful attention.

“The Rental Housing Amendment Act creates stricter rules for landlords that could lead to fines, or even imprisonment, if found guilty of contravening specific parts of the act

“A renewed focus on lease documentation, deposit repayment, utilities management, tenant premises access and ensuring the maintenance/habitability of the premises has been put forward strongly,” Shaw says.

“It is required that landlords invest the tenant’s deposit in an interest-bearing account where the interest may not be less than the rate applicable to a savings account with that financial institution. Tenants have the right to request written proof of this.”

If a property is not deemed to be in a “habitable” state, a landlord can face jail time and this, Shaw says, means it is important for landlords to maintain their properties, if they have tenants.

Tenants have the right to basic services.

“In advertising a dwelling for purposes of leasing it, or in negotiating a lease with a prospective tenant, or during the term of a lease, a landlord may not unfairly discriminate against such prospective tenant or tenants on grounds including race, gender, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disability or religion.”

If a landlord doesn’t comply to the above, Shaw says they will be found guilty of an offence in terms of the amendment act.

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