Can an agent go over the landlord’s head in an emergency?
Hi, the electrical system is non-compliant in a flat (no trip switch) and the tenant is paranoid. The owner is kicking against the work being done and he asked us to wait a bit as he is overseas and only returning late April.
Our tenant and us are worried she might be electrocuted which obviously has dire consequences for the owner. The tenant insists this gets done as soon as possible (the quote is nominal) but we have to take instruction from the owner.
I advised him that it is dangerous and has to be done, and if the tenant cancels the lease due to this there will be no consequences for her. We honestly feel that we should have this done and take up the battle when he returns; reason being that it is a possible life-threatening emergency. What is your take on this please?
Hi, while you, as the landlord’s agent, may not be able to compel the owner to fulfill his legal obligations towards the tenant, you are quite correct that in this instance, the owner is obliged to ensure that the electrics at the leased property are compliant with the safety regulations.
In this regard, I note that the owner of a property is required to be in possession of a valid electrical compliance certificate at all times. This is regulated by the Electrical Installation Regulations promulgated under the Occupational Health and Safety Act No. 85 of 1993.
The tenant may therefore demand compliance from the owner, and in the absence of his cooperation, report the issues of non-compliance to the relevant municipal authority. The owner may then be issued with a compliance notice, which, if ignored, would render him liable to a fine and/or prosecution.
Alternatively, the tenant may approach the Rental Housing Tribunal for a ruling on the issue. The tribunal may, in my view, treat this issue (and the owner’s conduct) as an unfair rental practice, and may therefore order compliance on the part of the owner.
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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.