The reality of relationships in rentals

Landlords and tenants alike may be hard pressed to know exactly what to do when a personal shift such as death or divorce happens, and how these types of events would impact a lease.

A couple who are renting

And now splitting up. What do you do? Perhaps one of you will elect to move out and the other will take over the responsibility of the lease.  “In order to take one person off the lease, the remaining tenant will have to prove his or her creditworthiness to cover the full rental amount,” says Natalie Muller, Head of Rentals at Jawitz Properties in the Western Cape and Gauteng regions.  “Should this not happen, you may elect to cancel the lease and be liable for the penalties.”  Some tenants choose to have the second tenant replaced with another person.  If this is the case, the landlord will need to give consent and the new tenant will have to go through a credit vetting process.

“The couple under the lease are both liable to pay the rent, so if one should default, the other has to be held accountable, no matter the circumstances,” Muller says.

An unexpected death

What are the necessary steps, and does the lease remain valid? It can be a complete shock to have a landlord or tenant die suddenly. Just like if one person moves out and the remaining tenants are liable for the rent, so too is the case if a tenant should pass away.

If a tenant or landlord dies during the currency of the lease, either the landlord’s or tenant’s estate has to continue in the contract that was originally signed when alive.

The tenant’s estate, for example, has the right to execute the 20 business days’ notice period subject to any penalties. But the estate will be liable for the rent on that property, for the currency of the lease.  “The landlord also cannot remove the tenant’s belongings until the lease is formally cancelled,” Muller adds.

Generally, a tenant can execute his 20 business days’ notice without any reason. Muller says to keep in mind that it would be wise to build in some time to pay rent if the lease is broken, while a new tenant is being sourced.

If a landlord passes, the managing agency and/or tenant will need be informed.  “The executor that is appointed by the estate -normally indicated in the owners will - will advise the tenant and/or agent where the rental monies need to be paid.  The executor takes on the responsibility of making decisions for the late owner, noting the benefit to his or her heirs,” Muller says.

Us and them

Equally important is to keep things professional should you choose to rent to friends or family.  Remember to keep business and emotions separate, as anything can happen. Close relationships can lead to blurred boundaries and could result in damage being done to the relationship should a rental dispute arise.

“So, it is important to keep it very business-like and have a fixed rental contract in place. Be careful what you agree to in a verbal capacity, especially if you are the landlord, as your tenant -even if they are family – may interpret it to his or her benefit. Any verbal decision or agreement should be confirmed in writing at all times, to protect both parties,” Muller concludes.  

  Comment on this Article

  Please login to post comments

Post to my facebook wall
Characters remaining

    Latest Property News
    • 22 Feb 2018
      An excellent credit score is one of the most priceless assets a potential home buyer can have. This tool has the power to secure favorable mortgage and refinancing rate, influencing everything from the size of the loan repayment to the interest rate on the home loan.
    • 22 Feb 2018
      What do you do if you love your home’s location and the area, but the home no longer fits your growing family’s needs? Do you stay and renovate your existing home or find a home that meets your developing criteria?
    • 22 Feb 2018
      While every owner wants to sell their property at the best possible price, overpricing a home can be the kiss of death for a sale.
    • 21 Feb 2018
      Given the hand they were dealt, government has performed a delicate balancing act which it is hoped will serve to reignite confidence in investment in South Africa, regain our global credibility and satisfy the credit ratings agencies, says Dr Andrew Golding, chief executive of the Pam Golding Property group.
    • 21 Feb 2018
      The real estate mantra, ‘location, location, location’ remains a strong market influence regardless of the prevailing economy, with suburbs like Rondebosch enjoying the buffering benefit of being ideally situated.
    • 21 Feb 2018
      These days most buyers are using online property portals like Private Property when house hunting due to the convenience, up to date information and variety on offer. “The property portals have revolutionised the way buyers shop, but they do need to be cautious – viewing photos online is no replacement for viewing the property in person,” says Bruce Swain, CEO of Leapfrog Property Group.
    • 20 Feb 2018
      Owning a home is a milestone that most South Africans aspire to. Becoming a homeowner is a step towards growing personal wealth and owning an asset that appreciates in value over time, provided of course that the correct principles are applied during the buying stage of the process, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
    • 20 Feb 2018
      The suburb of Greenstone in Johannesburg east came to be over the last two decades. “In the beginning, it was literally just a hill with not so much as a shopping centre,” says Michael Levy, Property Consultant at Jawitz Properties Bedfordview. Today it has plenty shopping facilities and is fully built, boasting high-density, upmarket housing and residential estates, though still has a few pockets poised for commercial development.
    Subscribe to the MyProperty Newsletter

    Last Name  
    Email Address  
    Email Frequency
    Share this Page

    For Sale Property
    Rental Property
    More Options
    Connect with us