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Landlord in arrears and now my power has been cut

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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.

Got a burning question? Email david@hometimes.co.za and we’ll be sure to assist you 

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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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.

Review overview
  • Denis 19th May 2017

    I am having difficulty in reconciling the relevant information. Assuming the rates and taxes due amount to a maximum of R 1,000 per month, means the rates and taxes have been outstanding for a period in excess of 16 and a half YEARS. If memory serves me correctly the shifting of the rates and taxes to the individual owners from the body corp account only occurred in the middle of 2009, 8 years ago.

    I think that there is too much outstanding information to conclude the above.

    On the surface of the information given, surely a standard spoliation application would meet with success.

    To furnish such advice without the relevant and pertinent information is irresponsible.

  • Hi there Maggie,

    I know my comment may not have a direct answer to your question but something is of more concern to me in this matter in that even if the landlord falls into arrears with the Municipality they may not unilaterally disconnect a tenants services without following and complying with the various bylaws in terms of the Municipal Systems Act as well as many court judgments that have directed the Municipality how to deal with a matter like yours.