Advice and Opinion

Conduct rules and tenants

When signing a lease the landlord should attach and disclose prior to signing the lease, all the terms and conditions of living in that home, says Michael Bauer, managing director of the estate agency IHPC.

If it’s a freestanding home, it is fairly straightforward and simple, in what the tenant sees he will get when he takes occupation but if it is a sectional title unit, it can be quite different, he says.

There will be conduct rules which tenants need to adhere to as do all the other residents in the scheme and if the landlord does not give these to the tenant before he signs the lease they might find there is something in the conduct rules that the tenant cannot adhere to, for example, if no pets are allowed and he has a dog or cat.

It sometimes happens that the estate agent who has been commissioned by the landlord to find a tenant either does not read the rules himself and/or ignores the rules and signs a lease with the first tenant that he feels is suitable. This creates problems when the other residents find out that the new tenant has a pet or two and the tenant is adamant he is not moving nor is he getting rid of his pets.

An incident of this sort ended up at the Rental Housing Tribunal recently and the Tribunal ended up finding in the tenant’s favour, as he was not at fault. It was the estate agent who was remiss in not fully disclosing the conditions of living in the apartment.

What should happen is that the rental agent must be informed of the terms and conditions of the sectional title scheme before putting it on the market; he should be familiar with these rules and must give a copy to the prospective tenant to read before a lease is signed.

On signing of the lease, these conduct rules must be attached to the lease, so that if any of these are ignored, they cannot plead ignorance and there will be no disputes, said Bauer.

In some cases rules in sectional title schemes are changed subsequent to a lease being signed, and in cases such as these, the lease should read that whatever rules are valid while the lease is in place, the tenant must adhere to.

In sectional title schemes, the trustees have a legal relationship with the owner and not the tenant and in cases where the tenant continuously ignores and disobeys conduct rules; there can be fines imposed – which will then have to be paid by the landlord.

“A good letting agent will make sure that the tenants he places knows about and complies with the rules of the scheme and will not place the landlord at risk of being fined by the body corporate,” he said.

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