Good landlords know that they also have responsibilities
LANDLORDS and managing agents have a number of systems for checking the track records and financial standing of potential tenants, but there is no system tenants or agents can use to check a landlord’s performance.
And, says Tony Clarke, managing director of the Rawson Property Group, the property market does have its share of bad landlords with whom the average tenant or agent would not want to be associated.
“Tenants’ responsibilities are often mentioned, but landlords have responsibilities too.
“They should be committed to ensuring that the accommodation they offer is in good condition, that equipment is in working order and that they offer a fair deal for the rent they are being paid.
“It is also the landlords’ duty to listen to their tenants’ complaints and to maintain the property. This means regularly repainting and recarpeting whenever necessary as well as ongoing repair of the electrical and plumbing installations.
“Features such as swimming pool pumps and filters, Jacuzzis, trampolines, built-in gas braais, air conditioning and automatic garden irrigation systems tend to need more maintenance than other features. But some landlords believe that, as these are extra features, they don’t need to attend to them regularly or repair them when they break.”
Clarke says that bad landlords are often ignorant of property law.
“Such landlords have a tendency to enter the rented properties without notice to their tenants, and will also often hold onto deposits illegally.
“To accomplish this they exaggerate the damages and normal wear and tear – which in any case are for their account – and will charge heav-
‘Landlords must ensure the accommodation is in good condition’
ily for the the unit.
“However, tenant complaints about these problems to the Rental Housing Tribunal have by and large been vindicated and tenants have recently achieved a number of victories. Any preconception that landlords are still privileged individuals with the whip hand has been destroyed,” says Clarke.
He says tenants should take care when dealing directly with landlords. He recommends that they ask for details of previous tenants and get in touch with them to find out how the landlord conducts himself once the lease is signed.