Last week we noted one of the proposed amendments in the Rental Housing Amendment Bill that would significantly change how parties enter into lease contracts.
All leases must be in writing within the guidelines to be published by the Minister of Human Settlements, Connie September.
Apart from the guidelines, the lease must contain the following information set out in subsection 6:
It would be prudent to include a mandatory clause that any change or alteration verbally made to the lease must be reduced to writing (non-variation clause) for such change or alteration to be valid.
In the event of a dispute, neither tenants nor the landlords can claim that he or she had agreed to certain changes verbally. In other words, this clause states that any variation to the lease agreement would be of no effect unless reduced to writing.
'The rule is that when a contract has once been reduced to writing, no evidence may be given of its terms except the document itself, nor may the contents of such document be contradicted, altered, added or varied by oral evidence.'
It would be necessary for the minister to apply her mind to the contents of the proforma lease agreement she is required to publish for landlords and tenants.
More importantly, the proforma lease, together with the unfair and procedural regulations, should be promulgated with the amended act.
Daily NewsDr Sayed Iqbal Mohamed
Chairman, Organisation of Civic Rights
Commercial and Property Attorney