The Rental Housing Act and House Rules
By Sayed Iqbal Mohamed
A lease establishes a contractual relationship between the tenant and the landlord, to the exclusion of all other parties. One of the major challenges is to ensure tenants adhere to the body corporate rules. These are the relevant provisions of the scheme’s management and conduct rules, in the rental housing context referred to as house rules, that regulate the relationships between the owners and occupiers in the scheme.
In practice an owner will not incorporate the rules into the lease or attached it as an addendum, unless she or he is committed to the scheme and cares about the rights of others. The Rental Housing Act, 50 of 1999 (“RHA”) specifically requires a landlord to attach house rules to any written lease. The amendments to the RHA, once signed into law, most likely before May 7, 2014, will make it compulsory for leases to be in writing within the guidelines to be published by the Minister of Human Settlements.
The RHA defines “House Rules” as the rules in relation to the control, management, administration, use and enjoyment of the rental housing property. A copy of the house rules applicable to the leased dwelling (i.e. the management and conduct rules) must therefore be attached as an annexure to the lease. Nothing prevents a landlord from including the house rules as a part of the actual lease document.
In addition to this, the landlord could insert a clause that the tenant will be responsible for the payment of any penalty the landlord may incur as a result of the tenant’s violation of the house rules. The RHA extends the common law obligations to the tenant’s household members and visitors regarding damage to the leased dwelling. It is a pity that the ‘extended’ liability is confined to the dwelling only.
Perhaps, the next generation amendments should include nuisance; behaviour that annoys and interferes with a neighbour’s peaceful right to use and enjoyment, such as screaming, fighting, selling drugs, and loud music. Bodies corporate may have a window of opportunity to lobby the Human Settlements ministry for the tenant-landlord guidelines for leases to include the rights of owners in a scheme.
Owners who rent out their units must take the responsibility of customising their leases to protect the rights of other sectional owners. They must also act promptly when there is a violation by the tenant, members of the tenant’s household and visitors.
Article reference: Paddocks Press: Volume 9, Issue 3, Page 2
Sayed Iqbal Mohamed is the chairperson; director of projects: Organisation of Civic Rights and is the course instructor of the University of Cape Town Residential Letting short course.
- Paddocks, the sectional title and home owners’ association specialists