COVID-19: How does Alert Level 4 affect tenants in South Africa?

There’s no doubt that millions of tenants, landlords, owners and property investors that were affected by the national lockdown which started on 26 March 2020 as South Africa’s state of disaster regulations prohibit one from moving from one home to another during the lockdown period. As there is so much uncertainty around the different Alert Levels and when people will be able to move, or what they can do if they are experiencing financial strain we’ve put together this list of frequently asked questions with answers.

Department of Transport confirms tenants are not permitted to move

You may only travel one way between provinces, municipal and district areas is from 1 to 7 May 2020 to return home or to work.

You may now move house between 7 May and 7 June 2020. Watch the video above for more details.

Only people starting new job on 1 May (i.e. being an essential worker) or for people taking advantage of the window of opportunity to move back to their places of residence between 1 – 7 May, may use their private vehicles to move their goods.

What does this mean for tenants?

I have lost my job or my salary has been reduced. Must I still pay my rent?

Yes, you must. You have had the use of the premises for the entire period and therefor payment is due. If you are not in the position to fulfil your financial obligations , you may apply in writing to the letting department (for clients of Fitzanne Estates, this would be letting1@fitzanne.co.za) for relief to settle the arrears during the next 2 to 3 months. This relief would be subject to owner approval.

I was supposed to move during lockdown but I’m still staying in my unit. When can I move?

You are permitted to move between 7 May and 7 June, permitted that you comply to the regulations.

This is according to regulations published in a government gazette and dated 7 May. Co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma signed the gazette. According to the document, the new regulations allow the “movement of persons and goods” within SA during level 4 of the lockdown. It is, however, a “once-off” only.

Watch the video above for more information.

Do I need a permit to move?

Yes you do and certain requirements have to be met before starting the move. These are:

  • Obtain a permit to travel across provincial, metropolitan or district boundaries from the station commander of a police station or a person designated by him or her;
  • The permit must correspond to Form 1 to the gazetted directions (available here on page 6);
  • Indicate the persons who are part of the household who will be required to move;
  • Have in his or her possession the relevant lease agreement indicating the date of expiry of the old lease and the date of commencement of the new lease, or the transfer documents attesting to the change in place of residence or change of ownership of property.

I was supposed to move during lockdown but I’m still staying in my unit. Must I still pay my rent?

Yes, you do. If you gave notice before lockdown, you can now move. For those who have been given notice after 26 March, the best option actually would be to talk to the landlord/ rental agent about getting a an extension on your lease. This will of course make you liable for rent where you are, until you are able to move.

I was supposed to move during lockdown but I’m still staying in my unit. Must I pay for both my existing unit and my new one?

No – only for the property where you currently reside. You will not be required to pay rent to the new landlord until you can take occupation because these circumstances are beyond your control, and the landlord/ agent will not be able to let the property to someone else during lockdown, even if it is empty. Approach the landlord of the new property and attempt to reach an agreement that the new property would still be available for you once you are able to move.

My old lease expired but I’m still in my unit; must I still pay my rent?

Yes, you do. You have had the use of the premises for the entire period and therefor payment is due.

Can my deposit be used to cover the extra time I’m staying in the unit?

No, it can’t. The  breakage deposit can only be utilised for arrear rent once you have vacated and inspection is completed confirming that no damages have been caused.

My landlord is threatening to evict me. Can this happen during Alert Level 4?

An Attorney may prepare, serve and even be granted an Order for the Eviction of a tenant from a premises during Alert Level 4. The Order may however only be executed after Alert Level 4 ends. You are not allowed to be evicted during Alert Level 4.

Do I have to wear a mask in my complex, apartment building or estate?

Yes, everyone has to wear cloth face masks outside their homes. If you don’t yet have a cloth mask, you can wear a scarf or a t-shirt wrapped around your mouth and nose.

What about the curfew?

People are not allowed out between 20:00 and 05:00.

Can I visit my friends and family?

No “recreational” visits are allowed so you can’t have visitors from outside the complex or visits between units in the complex.

Can I have fast food delivered to my complex?

Yes. The sale of takeaways will be permitted for delivery only – from fast food outlets and restaurants. Restaurants can open for food delivery services only, between 09:00 to 19:00.

Can I exercise in the complex?

You can walk, cycle and run between 06:00 and 09:00 daily, within a 5km radius from your house.

Gyms or other facilities where people gather for exercise will remain closed. Gathering in groups for exercise, such as when running or cycling, will also be prohibited.

Most common property facilities will remain closed, but the members on the Board of Trustees may decide to allow residents from the same unit to use some of the facilities – if and only if the persons using the facility at any single time are from the same household / unit.

Can domestic workers start working again?

Yes, live-in domestic staff and childminders in private households can return to work as part of Alert Level 4 of the national lockdown.

Staff employed by private households who care for the sick, mentally ill, elderly and people with disabilities will also be allowed to work, according to new regulations. They do not need to live-in.

Garden workers falls under this category.  If the complex employs it’s own garden staff and they stay inside the complex, they will be required to be back on the premises from Monday the 4th of May 2020.  If the staff does not stay on site they will only be allowed to start working when we reach either Alert Level 2 or 3 under the lockdown restrictions (which will most likely be amended again in future).  If the complex uses Garden Services, they will only be allowed to start working when we reach Alert Level 2 or 3 of the lockdown restrictions (which will most likely also be amended again in future).

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