When is an ‘act of God’, really an act of God?
A tenant was opening a garage door when the wind was quite strong. The garage door blew up and out of his hands and was damaged. The owner refuses to pay for the repairs as he says the tenant knew the wind was blowing and should have taken extra care.
The tenant refuses to pay as he says it was “an act of God”. Who would be liable to have the door repaired?
The question of liability will hinge on whether or not the tenant was negligent in this instance.
In my view the mere fact that the wind was blowing strongly does not constitute a vis major, or act of God as it is commonly known. By definition, an act of God entails something that is absolutely beyond the tenant’s control.
In this instance, the tenant, by the exercise of reasonable care, could have prevented the damage to the garage door, and I therefore find myself in agreement with the landlord’s view that the tenant should be liable for the costs of the necessary repairs.
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Who is Marlon Shevelew?
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 Club, RentDoc and LevyDoc which offers clients affordable legal fees for rental property and sectional title related matters. Marlon is contactable on firstname.lastname@example.org anytime for more information on these services.