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#AskALawyer – Can a landlord ask for four months’ rental upfront?

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Hi, I came across your video regarding deposits.

Firstly, I would like to know what recourse does a landlord have when a tenant has destroyed a property and you only have one month’s deposit. That does not cover the damages? Can a landlord when renting out not ask for three months’ deposit plus first month’s rent?

Secondly, you spoke of water and who pays for water usage. Surely the tenant is liable for water usage? If there are water restrictions and each household is only allowed to use 50 litres per day, why then is the tenant using more if that is the case. You mentioned that the landlord cut off water, then surely the tenant did not pay for the use of water? Perhaps I might have misinterpreted the question that you asked. I am sure the same would apply to electricity. The tenant pays for the usage of the property and surely, they are responsible for those accounts as well. – Lin



Hi Lin,

Regarding your first question, the landlord can always approach the Rental Housing Tribunal or the court to claim damages which is still due to him and not covered by the deposit. Landlords can ask for more than one month’s worth of deposit, however they must keep in mind the tenant and the market trend in order to ensure they are still able to secure a tenant. Tenants might still agree to two months’ deposit but may be reluctant to pay three months due to lack of affordability.

In terms of your second question, the party liable for the water will be determined by the lease agreement. In the event the tenant is liable and is using more water than allowed, and the municipality levies a penalty, the tenant will be liable for such penalty. Landlords are not entitled to take the law into their own hands and just cut off water – they need a court order to do this. If the municipality cut the water due to the water restrictions the tenant will have no recourse against the landlord.

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

Elize le RouxAnswered by Elize le Roux, director at property specialist firm, SSLR Inc


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.

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