Written by Claire Müller, Content Manager at HouseME, Smart Property Rental for Landlords and Tenants.
Reading Time: 5 Minutes
Reading a lease can be confusing. Not to mention time-consuming. There is so much legal language in it that your first impulse may be to sign and be done – rather than google all the words and terms that you do not understand.
Before you sign your lease, it is essential that you take the time to read it, understand it, digest it, and then get clarification on any points you do not understand.
We have outlined 8points for you to look out for in your lease agreement before signing on the dotted line.
8 Clauses To Pay Attention To In Your Lease Agreement
1. No Pets
Most residential complexes in South Africa do not allow pets, and it’s not always easy to find a rental home that will allow Snuffles or Rex to live with you. Be sure to check that the lease agreement specifies whether or not your furry friend will be allowed to stay and more so, it needs to specify what size and breed pet would be permitted. You may love your pet cobra, but the Body Corporate may not.
While load shedding is a stark reality in South Africa, it, unfortunately, does not mean that we get electricity for free. Your lease agreement must specify what is included in your lease price. Water, electricity, sewage, rates and taxes may or may not be included in the rental, so be sure to check before signing the lease. Some landlords will invoice for utilities, and this must be outlined in the lease.
3. Where Will The Deposit Be Kept?
The Rental Housing Act specifies that a rental deposit must be kept in an interest-bearing account. Some landlords may want to keep your deposit in R10 notes under their mattress, but HouseME will keep your deposit safe in an interest-bearing trust account until the end of your lease.
4. Maintenance And Repairs
Both the landlord and the tenant are responsible for looking after the property during the lease period. Typically, you are contractually responsible for keeping the property neat, clean and free of unnecessary damage. Have a look at your lease in detail to make sure the responsibilities for general maintenance are clearly defined. Most issues tend to arise a few months after occupancy, which is where HouseME has the best solution. You can log non-emergency issues with their trusted partner, TOD, who will contact the landlord on your behalf for maintenance requests.
Your lease agreement must specify who can legally live on the property. It is usually limited to you and any children who are still minors. If your cousin, Bob, comes to stay for 3 months after relocating from Potchefstroom, and then his friend, Joe, starts couch surfing in the same space, the landlord has the legal right to terminate the lease.
6. Right Of Entry
All lease agreements should clearly indicate in which circumstances the landlord/owner can enter the unit. Some owners would like monthly checks to inspect that no maintenance is needed, while others are comfortable to leave that to the outgoing inspection at the end of the lease. Make sure that your landlord is following the legal parameters set out by the South African Rental Housing Act, and gives you reasonable notice before an inspection.
7. Early Cancellation
We all have the dream where you are head-hunted for the job of your dreams, that just so happens to be at a resort in Bali. Hopefully, you wake up before you realise that you are in a lease contract that has a termination clause. Relocation and life changes happen, which is why you should make sure that the early cancellation clause in your lease is defined.
8. Read The Lease At A Leisure Pace & Save A Copy Online
You can even get a copy of the lease beforehand so that you can read it at your leisure, rather than feeling a time crunch. Once you have finalised and signed your lease, keep a copy online so that you can access it for easy reference at a later stage.
Need Help Making Sense Of Your Lease?
Is your head buzzing from all the legal jargon and what you need to remember? Ours would be too. You can leave the mumbo jumbo to the experts at HouseME and know that their state-of-the-art digital lease covers everything that you will need. Let us help you find a new home.
Ben Shaw is the CEO and Co-founder of Proptech Company, HouseME, Winner of Seedstars World’s Best Start-Up Company in Cape Town.
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HouseME’s Co-Founders, Ben Shaw and Kyle Bradley.
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