Landlord in arrears and now my power has been cut
Hi, I am a tenant living in a sectional title complex in Witbank, Mpumalanga. I have prepaid electricity but recently ours and some of my neighbours’ electricity has been cut. I have found out that some owners owe more than R200,000 to the municipality and that this is why our electricity is being cut off.
We pay the landlord rent and water/sewage every month but, as you can understand, we cannot live without power.
What options do we have in this situation? Do we as tenants have a right to see the landlord’s bill at the municipality to be reassured whether he is in fact paying his rates and taxes? – Maggie
Dear Maggie, I am of the opinion that you as the tenant, in an instance such as the present, would be entitled to request sight of the landlord’s municipal account, especially since your prepaid electricity has been cut as a result of the landlord’s recalcitrance. I do, however, note that having sight of the landlord’s municipal account will not do much good if it is the case that the landlord is in arrears with his/her rates.
If your electricity is cut due to the landlord’s failure to pay his/her rates, then this, in my view, would constitute a clear breach of the landlord’s obligations arising in terms of the lease.
You as the tenant would be entitled to avail yourself of the relevant contractual remedies, and would accordingly be entitled to cancel the agreement, as well as hold the landlord liable for any consequential damages that have been suffered as a result of the breach.
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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.