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Ask a lawyer – what are the tenant’s rights on contracts?

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I am supposed to move into a place this weekend. The landlord is dealing directly through a friend lawyer who sent me the contract two days ago after I had been begging for it for the past three weeks. However, the rent is more than we agreed upon and the landlord’s details only consist of a name, no ID number or anything else. I told the lawyer about these errors and he reckons I should have raised the concerns earlier which I was not aware of until the contract arrived. I am so stressed; I have not signed the contract and am very sceptical. My question is, do I have the right to insist on the owner/landlord’s ID number and to fix the broken stuff in the flat before I sign any contract? – M


Dear M, I have had due regard to your query, and wish to advise you as follows:

  1. The fact that the landlord has unilaterally changed the agreed terms of the lease, in my view, ought to be a cause for concern.
  2. Therefore, should you not wish to take occupation of the property, or reject the lease agreement as a result of the unilateral change in rental, you would be well within your rights to do so.
  3. With reference to the above, I note that as you have yet to sign the lease agreement, no valid contract has come into existence.
  4. Should you be inclined to conclude the lease agreement, it is not essential for the landlord to include his identity number in the lease agreement. However, I would advise you to ensure that the landlord provides you with as much of his particulars as possible, including a chosen domicilium address, in the event of you having to provide him with any formal/legal notices.

  5. With regard to the your further query, I point out that that it is the landlord’s duty to provide you with a property that is in good order, and in a good state of repair. Thus, you may insist that the landlord attends to all of the necessary repairs to the property prior to you taking occupation thereof (or after you have moved in, if this is agreeable to you).
  6. Upon taking occupation, I would advise you to ensure that a comprehensive incoming inspection is conducted, and that all defects to the property are adequately noted in the incoming inspection report. Furthermore, you must ensure that you are provided with a copy of the inspection report upon conclusion of the incoming inspection. This will serve to avoid any future disputes as to the condition of the property upon occupation.

Do you have a burning legal query? Email david@hometimes and we’ll be sure to help you get it sorted out

Who is Marlon Shevelew?

Marlon Shevelew, director of Marlon Shevelew and Associates.

Marlon Shevelew, director of Marlon Shevelew and Associates.

Marlon Shevelew is the director of Marlon Shevelew and Associates Inc., a Cape Town-based law firm specialising in rental property, contractual, consumer and company law. Marlon is the previous author of the TPN Residential Leasepack, the current author of PayProp’s rental documentation and preferred attorney to PayProp, IEASA South Africa, the Rental Housing Tribunal Western Cape, presenter of the Advanced Residential Property Law Seminar endorsed by the University of Cape Town and the director of the top rental property law firm in the country, according to several international publications. Marlon also created the unique Rental Retainer Club and RentDoc which offers clients affordable legal fees for rental property-related matters.


David A Steynberg, managing editor and director of HomeTimes, has more than 10 years of experience as both a journalist and editor, having headed up Business Day’s HomeFront supplement, SAPOA’s range of four printed titles, digimags Asset in Africa and the South African Planning Institute’s official title, Planning Africa, as well as B2B titles, Building Africa and Water, Sewage & Effluent magazines. He began his career at Farmer’s Weekly magazine before moving on to People Magazine where he was awarded two Excellence Awards for Best Real Life feature as well as Writer of the Year runner-up. He is also a past fellow of the International Women’s Media Foundation.

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