Landlord’s duty to maintain rental property

Maintaining your property is one of the key aspects for an owner renting out a property to keep the landlord-tenant relationship in good standing.

“In my experience one of the biggest causes of a breakdown in landlord-tenant relationships is where there is a lack of maintenance or repair,” says Sunell Afrika, rentals manager for SAProperty.com.

According to the Rental Housing Act, landlords have a duty to keep the unit they rent out reasonably fit for the purpose for which it was let,. Landlords are responsible for repairs and maintenance as defined in the lease or as found at the incoming inspection of the property. Landlords must also keep the property fit in accordance with health and safety standards and local municipal bylaws.

“Landlords would therefore be responsible for ensuring that the home has a leak free roof, all the doors and windows close and lock properly, the flooring is in good condition, the surrounding walls and gates are in good repair, the electrical system is sound and the water and sewer system has no leaks or faults, for example. In turn, the tenant should keep all of these in good repair by taking due care in the use of the property,” says Afrika.

Generally, landlords are responsible for the fixtures and fittings in a house, as well as the structure, and tenants should be responsible for the maintenance of these.

For example, landlords would ensure that the gutters are all installed properly and tenants must ensure that they remain free of leaves and debris to allow water to run off the roof properly. Or landlords would ensure that a built-in oven and stove work properly, but tenants are responsible for the cleaning of these items.

“Another example is where a home might be prone to damp or mould formation, and the landlord might take every precaution possible by making sure that the walls and ceilings are waterproofed as well as possible, but the tenants must air the home and clean off any spots they see forming,” says Afrika.

“When signing a lease, whether as a landlord or tenant, it is best to stipulate as clearly as possible what each person’s obligations are with regard to the use of the property and the care thereof. There should also be regular inspections – every three months at least – of the property so that the landlord can keep abreast of what repairs or maintenance are needed. It’s also essential to have a maintenance plan so that things are dealt with timeously to avoid costly repairs in the long run.

“The chances of being able to charge more for a well-maintained unit are higher, as well as being able to increase the rental on the unit each year. A unit that is looked after attracts good tenants and rental as well as giving the landlord more options when it comes to tenant selection,” says Afrika.

Call Sunell Afrika on 073 002 6481 or email  sunell@saproperty.com.