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Tenants, this is the best day to prematurely cancel your rental agreement

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Tenants, just because you signed a lease agreement for 12 months, does not mean you cannot cancel the agreement. In fact, despite what your lease agreement says or what you signed, all fixed-term agreements fall within the scope of the Consumer Protection Act and you only owe your landlord 20 business days’ notice that you are vacating.

And yes, your landlord is entitled to a fair early cancellation penalty – and it’s not a blanket three months’ worth of rental, either. But here’s the rub: your landlord cannot just sit on his hands. Once you send the formal notice to vacate, the clock ticks and the onus falls on him to find a new tenant. What this means is that he cannot hold you financially liable for lost income if he does not do everything in his power and ability to replace you.

If he does replace you, he is not out of pocket and you won’t owe him. If, despite his best efforts, he is unable to replace you, he could hold you to between one and three months’ equivalent of your rental. You may also be liable for other damages, such as the agent commission paid by your landlord and damage to the property.

So when is the best day to cancel early?calendar

If you consider the above, the best day to cancel the lease is on the 1st of the month. This gives the landlord sufficient time to advertise his property, and also makes perfect sense in terms of when tenants move into new homes. By issuing notice on the 1st, you are actually helping the landlord to mitigate his loss.


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If you, however, cancel in the middle of the month, your landlord may battle to secure a new tenant in the middle of the next month, leaving him with a vacant property for at least half a month, and can thus rightfully claim these damages from you.

Regardless of the reasons for cancelling the lease early, by issuing formal notice at the beginning of the month you are less likely to be the reason for your landlord suffering financial loss – which is good for you too!

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david.steynberg@gmail.com

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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