What are your responsibilities as a tenant?

What are your responsibilities as a tenant?

Many reasons motivate working professionals to leave their homes and start a new life in a new home. These include being closer to work or simply the need for personal space.

Leaving your home to rent an apartment can be a difficult task as it can push you to step out of your comfort zone and face challenges which you have never faced before. Change is generally difficult to do, but it is also an inevitable and necessary part of the journey to growth. And, even if you’ve been renting for a couple of years, moving into a new apartment comes with a new set of challenges. 

The one factor that will always save you is knowledge. Understanding your role and responsibilities will help you navigate your life as a tenant better. Below, we’ve compiled an insightful list of key rental responsibilities for tenants that you have to know as a tenant looking to rent or already renting a flat. 

Understand the lease agreement

Before you move into a flat, you have to sign a lease agreement. This is a binding contract enforceable by law, under The Rental Housing Act 35 of 2014 between you and your landlord. The terms of the lease will be stipulated on the agreement. It is your responsibility to read through the agreement and understand what your, and the landlord’s, responsibilities are before you sign it. 

Deposit responsibilities 

If you’ve rented before, you’ll know that you will be required to pay a deposit fee of, depending on the property owner, either two months or a month’s rent security deposit before moving in. The deposit fee covers repairs and damages to the property when you move out. If, and when you move out, and you’ve left the property in good shape, your landlord has to pay back your deposit with an accrued interest. 

Maintenance responsibilities 

As a tenant, it is your responsibility to maintain the property. This refers to general upkeep such as keeping the property clean, the disposing of trash, replacing light bulbs, keeping plumbing fixtures in clean condition and fixing damage caused by you. For example, if you clog the drain with hair or food, it is your responsibility to have that fixed, unless your tenancy agreement states otherwise. 

This does not include wear and tear, for example, a carpet that has worn out as a result of being in use for a long time; perhaps years. What’s important here is making sure that your rental agreement is clear on your maintenance responsibilities vs. your landlord’s responsibilities. It’s also important to inspect your flat before moving in so that you can be aware of the condition it was in before you arrived. That way, you will know which damage is a result of your own negligence.

Rent payment responsibilities 

You will always be responsible for keeping up with your rent payments each month you stay at a property. For example, if you move into any of our Newtown accommodation flats, you will have to pay rent each month during your stay on these premises. You are expected to pay the rent on time, on a regular basis, and the full amount agreed on upfront and as stipulated in your lease agreement. 

Should there be any problems with rental payments, your landlord can take necessary action unless there’s a new agreement signed by you in this regard. Rent increases should also be communicated to you in advance, and you should also sign a new agreement to give consent or confirm your agreement of the increase. The Rent Housing Tribunal, which is the independent body appointed by the MEC under the Rental Housing Act, is used to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants. The information available suggests that landlords should be fair when increasing the rent. The tribunal also explains that landlords should be able to back up the new figures, should a tenant ask. 

Lease renewal and cancellation responsibilities

Should you wish to renew your tenancy, you will need to come to a new agreement with your landlord before the current contract has run its course. Whether there is a renewal clause in your agreement or not, it still is your responsibility to initiate a conversation on renewal. If you want to terminate your lease early, you need to follow proper procedures. The Consumer Protection Act allows you to terminate your tenancy by giving 20 days notice. However, this move could come with penalty charges. 

Take your responsibilities seriously 

We hope that the above information will be useful to you as you search for cheap flats to rent in Johannesburg. We will emphasise the importance of taking your responsibilities seriously so that when you move into any of our rental properties, you know what to do and what not to do.