A residential lease agreement serves as the tenancy’s blueprint: It specifies the landlord’s and tenant’s rights and obligations. It is not just a legally binding contract that the parties may enforce in court; it is also a highly practical document that contains critical information such as how long the tenants can occupy the property and how much rent is payable each month. “Because a residential lease agreement is a legally binding document, tenants should read and understand it before signing,” says Pearl Scheltema, CEO of Fitzanne Estates, a leading Letting Agency in Gauteng.
There are no hard and fast rules about the length or format of lease agreements, but there is some essential information that should be included in every lease agreement. For homeowners and landlords in Gauteng, it is best to work with a letting agency in Gauteng in the drawing up of a lease agreement and managing a rental property on your behalf.
Description of Rental Property
Your letting agency in Gauteng will include the complete address of the property (including building and unit number, if applicable). You should also take notice of any specific storage areas or parking spots that are included. For example, if the property has designated parking, mention the parking space number.
Every adult who resides on the property, including both members of a married or unmarried couple, must be included as tenants and sign the lease agreement. Requiring all adult occupants to be official tenants provides landlords with additional insurance: Each tenant is legally responsible for paying the entire amount of rent and adhering to all other lease agreement provisions.
This means that if one tenant skips out and fails to pay rent, the letting agency in Gauteng can legally seek the entire rent from any of the tenants on behalf of the landlord. Furthermore, if one tenant breaks the lease agreement, you have the authority to cancel the lease agreement with all tenants, not just the offender.
Period of Tenancy
A fixed-term lease agreement is one that begins and ends on a specific date (whether it is for one month, six months, one year, or more). Once the lease expires, a new contract will be necessary to convey that information and the new dates.
A month-to-month lease begins on the first of the month and ends on the last day of the month. A full calendar months’ notice is required to terminate the lease agreement.
Your letting agency in Gauteng will clearly state in your lease agreement what the condition and length of tenancy are and what happens at the end of it. This should include whether it can be renewed, and what the increase in monthly rental fee will be. If the lease agreement is not renewed before its expiry date, it automatically becomes a month-to-month lease agreement.
Rental Amount and Conditions
The lease agreement should include the monthly rental amount, the date by which it is due, and how it will be paid (cash, EFT, etc.). This section should outline how an increase in rent (whether annual or because of various circumstances, like an increase in levies) will be communicated to the tenant.
Security Deposits and Fees
Tenants must pay a deposit and there may be other additional fees (water, lights, garden services, and so on) that apply. The lease agreement must include all possible additional items and the dates and methods these fees are to be paid. For example, the utilities should be paid directly to the municipality within a specific number of days from receiving the monthly invoice.
Limits on Numbers of Tenants
It is critical to specify in the lease agreement that only a set number of adults (and maybe minor children) will be able to and will occupy one property. The landlord screens these tenants. This clause prohibits tenants from inviting family and friends to reside with them or subletting specific rooms on the property to others. Any tenants who were not listed on the lease agreement may be evicted.
It’s also a good idea to specify that guests may only remain for a certain number of days.
Landlord’s Right to Enter Rental Property
The lease agreement will say that the landlord or homeowner has the right to enter the property to do maintenance and repair work or to inspect the structure and garden. In this case, the landlord should provide the tenant with a notice time for this access so that the tenant is prepared and can make the appropriate arrangements.
Maintenance and Repairs
You need to include information in the lease agreement about the responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenant when it comes to maintenance and repairs. For example, the tenant may be responsible for keeping the garden neat and tidy, or garden services are included in the rental and managed by the landlord, or the Managing Agent if the property is situated in a Sectional Title Scheme.
Also, if any maintenance or repairs are required, describe the procedure. Who receives the quotations, selects the contractors, and pays for the work? Typically, landlords are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of properties, except if for example the work is required due to negligence on the part of the tenant, such as blocked pipes, or damage or property.
The lease agreement must state whether pets are permitted and where they can be kept. Some landlords will accept specific breeds (such as cats and small dogs), while others will not accept any, and still others may allow only outside animals. Clearly outline these conditions.
If the property is in a Sectional Title Scheme, the pet policy will be in the Conduct Rules but even if the scheme allows pets, the owner may have his own preference with regards to allowing pets in his property.
Restrictions on Illegal or Unacceptable Activity on the Property
Landlords or homeowners are within their rights to state on the agreement that certain behaviour will not be tolerated. Such behaviour may involve the abuse of substances, loud parties past a certain time, or physical violence, for example.
Each property may also have a unique set of requirements, and this is the place to outline these. This is where things like running a business from home can be discussed.
Fitzanne Estates is a leading letting agency in Gauteng and has many rental properties available across the whole of Gauteng. Should you want to rent a house or flat, Fitzanne Estates, and our team of property rental agents will find the perfect home for you.
More about Fitzanne Estates
Fitzanne Estates (Pty) Ltd is a Property Management Company that can sufficiently administer your property investment to the benefit of the Landlord, the Body Corporate, and the NPC – Non-Profit Company. Services include Letting, Sectional Title Management, Full Title Management (NPC – Non-Profit Company) and Sales.
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