5 important things you need to know about your rights as a tenant

5 important things you need to know about your rights as a tenant

Becoming a first-time renter can be equally exciting and stressful. You’re stepping out of your comfort zone to explore a new area and new neighbours. While you’re delighted about making your new place a home, you also need to ensure that you’re protected from a legal point of view. 

Understanding your rights will help ease the transition for you. This will provide you with facts to empower you to make responsible decisions and be confident that your new property company is not exploiting you in any way. At Johannesburg Housing Company (JHC), we do not only follow the guidelines from the Department of Housing in Johannesburg about putting tenants first, but we also make it our mission to take care of our tenants. Over the years, we’ve built a reputation which proves that we take an innovative approach to help tenants choose practical, safe leasing options. 

If you read on below, you will learn more about tenant rights when renting.

What does the law say about tenant rights?

The Rental Housing Amendment Act 35 2014, and the National Consumer Protection Act are currently in charge of managing tenant and landlord relationships, as well as setting out the rights and obligations of both the tenants and landlords. Section 4 of the Amendment Act explains the rights of tenants; a tenant requesting a written proof of deposit paid from the landlord, receiving payment of the deposit plus any interest accrued on circumstances of the expiration of a lease and more. 

On the other hand, the Consumer Protection Act aims to, among other things, establish standards and rules to ensure consumer protection, and promote consistent legislative framework relating to consumer transactions and agreements. A consumer is any person who enters into a transaction or contract with services suppliers. In this case, as a tenant, you are a consumer and the act is available to you for protection. 

What should you look for in a real estate agency?

The rental market is flooded with a number of both expensive and affordable apartments in Johannesburg. It’s up to you to do thorough research on the properties available to rent. For example, if you need to know anything about any of our properties, you can initiate conversations with us through any of our communication channels. But what responsible real estate agents in Johannesburg will tell you is to look for a reputable agency when you search for a flat agency near you. This is to ensure that the agency you speak to is transparent on all relevant information about your general rights as a tenant. 

Understanding your lease agreement

As a first-time renter, chances are you’re not exactly sure how the lease agreement process works. A lease agreement is there to protect you and enforce your rights as a tenant. It is; therefore, your right to sign a lease agreement to ensure that your contract is legally binding. Your rights about rental payments, deposit payments, lease expiration date or cancellations, evictions, the responsibility of property renovations, repairs, etc. will be all listed in your lease agreement. You have to understand exactly what your obligations are, and whether your lease protects you or exploits you as a tenant. 

The last crucial thing to look at is whether the rights listed in your lease agreement corresponds with the rights under above-mentioned acts. 

Know your credit check rights

The agency can ask your permission to do a credit check and learn more about your credit history; whether you pay your credit on time, have outstanding judgements, perhaps you are blacklisted or have a defaulting history of rent elsewhere. They can also ask to find out if you have any criminal record. This is a normal and crucial step for real estate agencies to learn more about the potential tenant and build some trust. So, while The National Credit Act no 34 of 2005, details that you have the right to maintain your confidentiality - it’s important to remember that not providing your credit check can negatively affect your chances of being considered for affordable housing in Johannesburg.

Your rights around the deposit

Most agencies will require that you pay a month or two months security deposit; it is dependent on the property you will be moving into. According to the law, your deposit needs to be kept in a separate account where interest will accumulate and be paid to you when you decide to leave, provided you follow the rules in your lease agreement. 

Some properties will not reimburse you on your deposit, but you have to know that it’s based on the right side of the law, at Johannesburg Housing Company, for example, you do get your deposit back provided you do not owe any rent and that you had left the flat in the same way you received it when you moved in. We are ready to assist you with any renting needs or questions you may have. Simply visit the JHC website and make contact with us using any of the communication channels we have.