The owner is obliged to maintain his bond repayments with the bank. The tenant is obliged monthly rent agreed upon in the Lease Agreement. He has to pay the rent at a frequency (ie. monthly or weekly) agreed to by both parties in the lease agreement.
The escalation clause
Your lease agreement must specify when the rent is due to increase and by how much. Generally, rent will escalate on the anniversary date of your lease, which the tenant must be given notice of, in terms of the Rental Housing Act. This will be included in the renewal terms of your lease agreement. An annual increase of up to 10% is acceptable. If this has not been included in the lease agreement, then the landlord must negotiate the amount with you. Neither can make a change to the original agreement without consulting the other party.
The Consumer Protection Act prohibits one from "contracting out of Law". The that when the original lease is drawn up, assuming the original term is only 12 months, it can't contain a set percentage escalation clause for 'year two. This means that rent hikes must be negotiated and agreed to at the time of the renewal of the contract.
If there is a municipal rates increase due to the property being valued at a higher amount by the municipality, it could be written into your lease that your rent may increase. The landlord would then be allowed to give a fair written warning (usually 30 days) after which your rent may increase.
Keep a record of your payments.
If you pay your rent electronically, file a copy of the proof of payment, either on your hard drive or print it out. In terms of the Rental Housing Act, you can also ask your landlord to provide you with a receipt if he does not automatically do so. If you pay your rent in 'hard cash' (instead of let's say, electronic transfers) and you don't insist on receiving a receipt, it will be very difficult for you to prove that you have paid your rent if a discrepancy arises, in which case your landlord will be able to give you notice as per the terms of your agreement and start the eviction process.
Can I withhold rent if my landlord has defaulted on the lease agreement?
No, you cannot! Be very careful when you find yourself in a situation like this, rather seek professional advice. If you withhold rent, then technically you are also defaulting on the agreement and it could end up reflecting poorly on your credit record. You are advised to consult with the letting agent, your local Rental Housing Tribunal or an attorney.
Can my landlord seize my possessions if I fail to pay my rent?
Not unless he has obtained a court order to do so. It is then up to the Sheriff of the Court to attach your property to the sum of your debt. If your landlord takes your possessions without following the legal procedure, he will be guilty of theft and you will need to contact the South African Police Service as well as lodge a complaint with the Rental Housing Tribunal.
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.