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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.


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.

  • Sanie visser 14th February 2018

    We are renting from the owner and our electricity has been cut now for more than 10 days due to an outstanding account of the
    owner. We have spoken to her on various occasions now and cannot afford to move right now due to her not complying to the contract.
    What can we do to have our electricity connected as a matter of urgency

  • Shanaaz ismail 25th July 2018

    Hello I have a question. I am renting a very small cottage and my landlord resides in the main house. My rental includes utilities. I am single and don’t use much electricity whereas my landlord runs a washing machine and a house full of appliances every day. I don’t cook here don’t do washing either. But he wants me to be responsible for 25% if his bill exceeds the average or even if he has a billing problem. This does not seem fair or just. Kindly advise. Thank you in advance.

  • Margaret Fick 26th January 2019

    Hi the Municipality has disconnected my electricity services since Dec 2018 . Now my tenants refuse to paying me any rentals. I have tried my best to negotiate with Municipality paid about 50.000.00 on arrears spoke too Municipality but no avail now tenants are not paying rent since Dec 2018 what do I as landlord do please 🙏