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Do you need to provide a reason for declining a rental application?

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Our agency just did a reference check on applicants with their current landlord for purposes of placing them with a new landlord.

The previous landlord informed us they were excellent tenants, however, the son, who lives with his parents, was recently arrested for breaking and entering into flats and garages in the building.

What is our legal position in refusing this application made by the parents based on the information regarding their son who will be living with them?


It should be borne in mind that you and/or the landlord have absolutely no obligation to approve an application that is submitted by a prospective tenant.

The purpose of the application process, particularly following up on a prospective tenant’s references, is to ensure that the landlord is able to make an informed decision as to who he or she will ultimately contract with.

The decision to contract and conclude a lease agreement ultimately rests with the landlord. Therefore, and in the event of the landlord not being satisfied with any of a prospective tenant’s references or credentials, then it is his/her prerogative to reject the application.

In the circumstances, and if it is the case that the collateral information received from the applicants’ previous landlord is of grave concern to the landlord, then you may simply advise the applicant that the landlord has elected to contract with another applicant.

You are not required to advise them of the fact that the landlord’s decision is based on the collateral information received about their son and his behaviour. 

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 law firm specialising in rental property, contractual, consumer and company law. The firm is the recipient of more than 45 international property law awards. Marlon is current author of PayProp’s rental documentation and preferred rental property attorney to the Institute of Estate Agents South Africa (IEASA), the Rental Housing Tribunal Western Cape and presenter of the Advanced Residential Property Law Seminar endorsed by the University of Cape Town. Marlon has featured on Cape Talk 567 and Property Matters on DStv, contributes as a guest expert to several property publications and was invited by Juta to write a book on rental property law, by LexisNexis Butterworths to edit its forms and precedents on rental property law and, on no less than three occasions, was invited by the Law Society of South Africa to lecture and train candidate attorneys and attorneys on rental property law. Marlon also created the unique Rental Retainer ClubRentDoc  and LevyDoc which offers clients affordable legal fees for rental property and sectional title related matters. Marlon is contactable on marlon@marlonshevelew.co.za anytime for more information on these services.

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