The Rental Housing Amendment Act 35 of 2014 is the latest amendment to the Rental Housing Act 50 of 1999. The Amendment Act introduces various changes that will impact the relationship between tenants and landlords. Many people do not realise the impact the Rental Housing Amendment Act has on the leasing of residential property in South Africa. It is important to know your rights and obligations as a tenant or a landlord. Virtually all residential property is now included in its ambit.
As it stands, tenants in the residential property sphere have rights in terms of the Rental Housing Act, the common law, and the Consumer Protection Act. The rights of tenants and obligations of the landlord have increased in an effort to improve the relationship between the tenant and the landlord.
Impact of the Rental Housing Amendment Act on landlords – criminal offences
The Rental Housing Amendment Act creates new offences that may result in the imprisonment of the landlord or a fine. Although imprisonment is highly unlikely, it is a possibility.
If you are a landlord and you:
- do not provide your tenant with a written lease agreement;
- fail to repay your tenant’s deposit and interest;
- cut the utilities to the dwelling e.g. electricity;
- lock your tenant out of the premises;
- provide your tenant with a dwelling that is uninhabitable; or
- fail to maintain the premises that you are leasing,
then, you are guilty of an offence in terms of the Amendment Act.
Actions you can take:
- Avoid penalties (if you’re the landlord) or protect your rights (if you’re the tenant) by getting a residential lease agreement template from us that complies with all the laws or asking us to review your current residential lease agreement template.
- Find out more about the Rental Housing Act and what it means for you.
- Read the actual Amendment Act.
Key provisions of the Rental Housing Amendment Act
The President has assented to the Amendment Act but has not announced the commencement date. This means that its provisions are not effective yet, but it is still important to take it into account when signing lease agreements. It:
- requires residential lease agreements to be in writing,
- changes and inserts definitions,
- extends the nature of the offences,
- extends the power of the Rental Housing Tribunal (for example the one in the Western Cape), and
- adds sections relating to securing deposits, the condition of the dwelling and the overall relationship between landlords and tenants.
Impact on the Minister
The Amendment Act requires the Minister of Human Settlements to publish a simple lease agreement in all official South African languages. There is also a duty on the Minister to set up Housing Tribunals in all provinces.