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Can my landlord send a dummy tenant to secretly record our conversation?

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Q

Hi, I gave notice to my landlord that I was going to vacate his rental apartment within the required time. He sent prospective tenants to the apartment who I happily accommodated to view and ask questions about the property.

One of the prospective tenants was sent personally by him to secretly record what I told potential tenants about the property and my impression of my landlord.

The set-up tenant asked how I felt about my landlord and I gave an honest answer, saying we did not get along and that he was a difficult person to rent from. I also highlighted the positive and the negative aspects of the apartment when asked.

On the weekend my landlord sent me a Whatsapp with the voice recording saying he was taking me to court as I had proven that I was purposefully preventing him from earning an income from his apartment. The fact is, there is a lot wrong with his apartment, with some windows not closing properly and other security concerns, not to mention the very high utilities costs which I can no longer afford.

I have two questions.

1 Is he legally allowed to get someone to secretly record me without my consent?

2 Does being honest about my personal relationship with him, and sincerely providing pros and cons about the apartment, mean I am purposefully trying to prevent him from securing a replacement tenant? Can he really take me to court for being honest and sincere with a possible replacement tenant? – Barbara

A

Hi Barbara, the Regulation of Interception of Communications & Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA), determines that it is unlawful to record without consent, unless you fall under the exceptions listed:

  1. Where you are a party to the communication meaning if you are the sender, the recipient, or any person included in the communication (such as being copied in on an email)  (even if you are the recording party)
  2. You have the written consent of one of the parties to the communication,
  3. The recording is in connection with the carrying on of business (in which case more specific requirements apply).

In the abovementioned I assume the person recording you consented and provided the information to the owner.

A tenant has to be careful to tell their truth of the matter, as this is still just their opinion. The tenant might be of the opinion that the landlord is difficult but someone else might be of the opinion that the person is strict and delightful.

I will never advise to lie. However, keep your opinions to the minimum so as not to open yourself up to damages, and rather redirect questions from the prospective tenants to the owner.


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


Answered by Elize Le Roux, managing director at Xpello, which offers eviction process and other property investment management

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ungerermariette@gmail.com

Mariette Steynberg is a qualified economist with a post-graduate diploma in financial planning. She has enjoyed working on holistic financial plans for clients in various stages of life, as well as a development economist assessing the socioeconomic impacts of new developments. When she is not working, Mariette enjoys parenting her quirky, delightful toddler girl. Cloth diapering, Eskimo kisses and the importance of reading to your child are all causes close to her heart. Mariette is passionate about financial education and hopes to use the experience she has gained to share knowledge with HomeTimes’ readership. Her goal is to provide information that is implementable by everyone.

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