Countless Reasons could lead to a tenant needing to terminate his lease prematurely due. E.g. to a transfer in job to another city)- Under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) tenants can give landlords 20 working days- notice if they want to cancel their lease before it expires. This clause does not, however, guarantee you a clean-cut escape.
As much as the tenant has his valid reasons, the owner loses money every time the property
changes hands. A landlord who has met all the conditions of the lease is also within his right to
recoup any reasonable costs that he might incur whilst searching for a replacement tenant. Loss of rental income, commissions paid to letting agents, as well as the cost of advertising the property, are just some of the costs that you may be liable to refund your landlord under these
It is illegal for a landlord to withhold the entire deposit amount (unless there were substantial
damages to the property), even if a new tenant has not yet been found. Damages to the property are to be billed separately from the cancellation expenses. The tenant is liable for repair costs, over and above cancellation costs. The CPA does not stipulate what a reasonable figure would be for cancellation fees, if such clause is to be stipulated in an agreement, so it will be in your best interest to consult a property attorney when negotiating the termination of your lease. Most rental agents suggest an amount equivalent to two months rental.
If a cancellation clause does not exist in your lease, ending your lease may be considered a breach of contract. This means that your landlord is within his rights to demand that you still pay the rent due for the balance of your lease period and you may also lose your deposit.
If your landlord is in material breach of the lease, then cancelling your lease early will not be in breach of the contract. An example of this would be a situation where the landlord has not maintained aspects of the property that were agreed upon in the lease and you are left with no choice but to leave, due to the property uninhabitable. However, If this situation does arise, it will be necessary for you to prove that this is, in fact, the case and that the landlord is definitely in breach of the contract.
If your landlord has met all the conditions of the lease and you decide to cancel your lease early, you will be in breach of contract unless the termination of the lease has been mutually agreed upon. Speak to your landlord before making hasty decisions, chances are, you may be able to come to a mutual agreement whereby you are able to find a replacement tenant or sublet the property for the remainder of your lease. There is currently a shortage of rental properties in South Africa-so the odds should be in your favour when looking for a tenant to take over your lease.
Please note: If the tenant can find a suitable replacement tenant, the landlord is not allowed to turn the prospective tenant away in favour of making the tenant pay penalties for ending their lease early. The landlord is also not entitled to charge penalty fees once a new tenant has been found. If this situation does occur, the tenant has every right to lay a complaint with the Rental Housing Tribunal.
Be sure to get any agreement that you have made with your landlord in writing terms and conditions of your agreement are included in this document to prevent any misunderstandings down the line.
My tease expired months ago, do I need to give notice before I move out?
This depends on the terms of your lease agreement. If there is a renewal clause included In your lease, this will specify how much notice you are required to give your landlord before you move.
If there is no renewal clause in the lease agreement then, through your actions, you have
effectively already entered into another lease period of the same length, with the same terms and conditions that were specified in your previous lease agreement. In this case, you would then need to check for a cancellation clause in the original lease in order to terminate the lease agreement.
If your original lease does not have either a renewal or cancellation clause, you will need to follow the same procedure as if you were prematurely terminating your lease agreement as explained above. Without a cancellation clause, you would need to give your landlord one month's notice, in writing, before the lease expired (e.g. in the 11th month of a 12th-month contract) in order to end the contract.
The tenant's rights when the landlord wants to sell the property:
It's quite simple: Just like the Afrikaans word Voetstoots' meaning 'you take it as is' is still commonly used in Offer To Purchase agreements, so is the phase 'Huur gaat voor koop' which, translated word for word, roughly says 'Rental goes ahead of purchaser meaning that while the owner has every right to sell his property, the lease takes precedence and the buyer is bound to all the material terms of the lease agreement. This protects the tenant's rights while the lease is in place.
When the owner sells the property to a third party, he may not terminate the lease agreement. He can, however, give the tenant first option to purchase the property. The tenant must allow the owner to put up "for sale" signs and allow prospective buyers to view the property at a time convenient for all parties.
“This response has been prepared for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, or a legal opinion, the practical application will vary depending on the facts of each case. Please obtain a full legal opinion from a legal professional or tax practitioner if you wish to act on any aspect hereof as the response is not fully comprehensive. “