When is your rent due?

The myths and truths re­vealed

Lesotho Times - - Property -

IN short… this ar­ti­cle deals with the rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of a ten­ant in re­la­tion to the pay­ment of rental.

Time for pay­ment This is stip­u­lated in your lease. If you are do­ing an EFT, the money must reach the land­lord’s bank ac­count by the ap­pointed date. You are still in breach of your lease if you have in­structed that pay­ment be made, but the pay­ment has not reached the land­lord’s ac­count by the ap­pointed date, or if you have made the trans­fer from one bank but the pay­ment has not yet reached the land­lord’s ac­count by the ap­pointed date be­cause he banks with an­other bank.

Place for pay­ment You need to make pay­ment to the land­lord’s nom­i­nated ac­count. Mak­ing pay­ment into any other ac­count or to any other per­son (for ex­am­ple, pay­ing a plum­ber to do some­thing that you wanted the land­lord to do for you, or pay­ing into the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s ac­count) does not count as pay­ment to the land­lord. Pay­ment to a body cor­po­rate in­stead of the land­lord, or to a hi­jacker or a “ten­ants’ com­mit­tee” does not count as pay­ment to the land­lord.

Man­ner of pay­ment If you make pay­ment in any man­ner other than those per­mit­ted by the lease (for ex­am­ple, if you are re­quired to pay into the land­lord’s bank ac­count but you de­posit cash into his ac­count in­stead), you are breach­ing the lease. If you de­posit cash di­rectly into the land­lord’s ac­count, or you give the land­lord cash, then you will likely be held li­able for the cash de­posit fees.

Penal­ties for late pay­ment The land­lord is not legally en­ti­tled to charge you any amount as a penalty, other than in­ter­est, for late pay­ment. How­ever, there are a num­ber of other cour­ses of ac­tion that the land­lord might take if you pay late — see be­low.

Breach of lease If you have not paid your rent on time, you are in breach of your lease. This hap­pens au­to­mat­i­cally and im­me­di­ately with­out the land­lord need­ing to send you any no­tice to tell you that you are in breach. There are ru­mours float­ing around that a ten­ant is au­to­mat­i­cally given 7 days to pay af­ter the due date for pay­ment - this is in­cor­rect.

You are in breach im­me­di­ately af­ter the due date for pay­ment has ar­rived, if you have not paid by that time. In cer­tain in­stances, (as de­scribed be­low) a land­lord can im­me­di­ately take le­gal ac­tion against you. Con­se­quences of breach

Su­ing you Your lease might say that your land­lord needs to give you no­tice of your breach and time to rem­edy your breach (i.e. pay your out­stand­ing rent) be­fore su­ing you. But your lease also might not re­quire that your land­lord give you no­tice be­fore su­ing you. It is le­gal for your land­lord to im­me­di­ately sue you with­out giv­ing you no­tice of your breach, if this is pro­vided for in the lease.

The land­lord will usu­ally en­gage an at­tor­ney to is­sue sum­mons against you, in which case you will be held li­able for the taxed le­gal costs. Once an or­der is granted against you, if you have still not paid the out­stand­ing rental, the land­lord can ob­tain a war­rant of ex­e­cu­tion and in­struct the sher­iff to come to your house and to take your goods into his pos­ses­sion to sell at pub­lic auc­tion to sat­isfy the debt ow­ing to the land­lord.

At­tach­ing your goods A land­lord has a right to at­tach the goods of the ten­ant (which are on the rented prop­erty) and to have the sher­iff sell those goods at pub­lic auc­tion, and to ap­ply the pro­ceeds of the sale to the out­stand­ing rental.

In or­der to en­force this right, the land­lord en­gages an at­tor­ney to is­sue a rent in­ter­dict sum­mons. This is just a slightly dif­fer­ent form of sum­mons from the one re­ferred to above. The court is­sues this doc­u­ment and then the sher­iff goes to your house and writes up a list of your mov­able be­long­ings. Once they are writ­ten up, they have been “at­tached” by the court and may not be re­moved from the prop­erty. When the court makes an or­der on the sum­mons, to the ef­fect that the ten­ant owes the land­lord money, the court also makes an or­der that the goods that have been at­tached be sold to pay the land­lord the out­stand­ing rental.

At this stage the sher­iff comes to take the at­tached goods into his cus­tody and store them un­til the pub­lic auc­tion is held. It is un­law­ful for a land­lord to sim­ply re­move or take a ten­ant’s goods with­out an at­tach­ment or­der hav­ing been granted by the court.

Can­cel­la­tion Re­gard­less of whether your lease is res­i­den­tial or com­mer­cial, in the ma­jor­ity of cases your land­lord will need to give you no­tice of 20 busi­ness days to rec­tify your breach (i.e. to make pay­ment of your out­stand­ing rental). If you don’t make pay­ment in this time, the land­lord can can­cel your lease and evict you im­me­di­ately af­ter the 20 busi­ness days. This ap­plies whether you have a writ­ten lease or a ver­bal lease, and re­gard­less of whether your ini­tial writ­ten res­i­den­tial lease ex­pired and is now be­ing re­newed on a monthly ba­sis in terms of the Rental Hous­ing Act 50 of 1999.

Evic­tion A land­lord should never evict a ten­ant with­out an or­der of court. The evic­tion of a ten­ant with­out an or­der of court is un­law­ful.

How­ever, a land­lord can ap­ply to a court for an evic­tion or­der im­me­di­ately af­ter the lease has been can­celled. The land­lord is not legally obliged to give the ten­ant any ad­di­tional time to get his af­fairs in or­der or find al­ter­na­tive ac­com­mo­da­tion.

If the land­lord has to go to court to get an evic­tion or­der, and if the land­lord has to in­struct the sher­iff to carry out that evic­tion or­der be­cause the ten­ant has not vol­un­tar­ily va­cated by the date ap­pointed by the court, the ten­ant will be held li­able for the le­gal costs.

— Prop­erty24

The land­lord is not legally en­ti­tled to charge you any amount as a penalty, other than in­ter­est, for late pay­ment.

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