Advice and Opinion

Tenants should deal with the agent mandated

Situations will sometimes arise where a tenant’s relationship with the agent has become difficult and he does not want to deal with him and prefers to deal with the landlord directly, but the problem here is that, firstly, the agent has been employed by the landlord and he has a job to do (for which he is being paid), secondly, the landlord would in all likelihood only want to deal through the agent as he does not have the time to get involved with certain issues relating to his property, says Annette Evans, regional manager of the Western Cape office of the Institute of Estate Agents.

“While the tenant pays the rent each month, he must remember that the agent has been mandated by the owner of the property to perform certain duties, and he is obliged to deal with the agent if he has been tasked with a full managed mandate, as the landlord has signed a contract with the agent to this effect,” said Evans.

Whether it is a case of maintenance that needs to be dealt with, a discrepancy in an account or whether the house is being sold and the tenant wants to buy the home, he must go through the agent that has the mandate on the property.

In a particular case she has encountered recently, Evans said the tenant wanted to put an offer to purchase the home he was renting, but wanted to deal directly with the landlord.

There may be various reasons for this, she said, one being that he thinks the commission might be waived and he would, therefore, get the home at a cheaper price. This, however, is not possible because the owner of the property would have signed a mandate with the agent and this makes him the cause of the sale, which entitles him to commission on the sale. Even if the tenant was successful in signing an offer to purchase directly with the seller, the chances of him “discounting” the price are slim, if he thinks he will get the full price, he will ask for it.

Another thing the tenant cannot do, is block the prospective buyers from viewing the property, said Evans. The tenant has an obligation to allow others to view the home, and he has to allow reasonable access to the home, as it is probably stated in his lease.

“If a tenant goes against any of the conditions of his lease, he can be held legally liable for any losses incurred, so it is always best not to act alone but to consult a professional for advice and to act on your behalf,” she said.

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