Once tenants start defaulting on payment or looking after your property, buckle up for the long ride!
It is essential that your lease agreement includes clauses around defaulting – I have included the clause we use below for your easy reference
- The Landlord shall be entitled, without prejudice to its other or accrued rights, to cancel this lease forthwith in the event that:
- The Tenant fails to pay the rental or any other amount due in terms of this lease on due date;
- The Tenant breaches any of the other terms or conditions hereof, all of which are material, and fails to remedy same within seven (7) days from date of receipt of written notice calling upon it to rectify such breach;
- The Tenant commits an act of insolvency.
- There is a transfer of the shareholding or members’ interest in the Tenant (if applicable) without the Landlord’s prior written consent thereto.
- The Tenant, being an individual, dies.
- The Tenant, being a partnership, dissolves.
- In the event of this lease expiring or otherwise terminating and in the event of the Tenant failing to vacate the premises and to redeliver possession thereof to the Landlord thereupon, the Tenant shall be obliged, for so long as it remains in occupation, to continue to pay to the Landlord an amount equivalent to the rentals and other charges as would have been payable by the Tenant to the Landlord had the lease remained in existence, which amount shall be regarded as damages for holding over.
- Should the Tenant fail to make payment of any rental or other amount payable to the Landlord in terms of this lease on due date, the Landlord shall be entitled, without prejudice to its rights, to charge interest on such amounts at a rate of 2% above the prime lending rate from time to time of the Standard Bank of South Africa Limited
Use a standard eviction notice, I can provide a sample upon email request.
Once you start the process, you need to pay close attention and follow up exactly as you say you intend to. Do house visits as scheduled and agreed upon, send regular email reminders of the time lapsed since the eviction notice was sent. Take lots of pictures throughout this process as a means of mapping what the property looked like when you first rented it out, what it looked like when the eviction notice was served and then the progress, if any, during the eviction process. If you have house insurance, you may need the pictures to support your claims.
It is important to keep emotion out of all your dealings with the tenant, just stick to the facts stating them calmly and repeatedly when called upon to do so. We found this part incredibly hard when a tenant completely trashed our once beautiful rental home, the temptation to hurl accusations and bitter comments was at times overwhelming. Take long deep calming breaths, stick with the process to avoid escalations into violence, abuse or defamatory comments.
Patience and persistence pay off. As the eviction date grew closer and no move was being made towards the repair of the property, we emailed the tenants stating that if everything wasn’t back in it’s original state by the due date, our team of builders would be moving onto the property to start the repair. We were lucky that the tenant just left prior to the final eviction date since if we had moved builders on site, they would have been able to report us to the courts.
If you are facing an eviction situation, contact eviction lawyers to guide you through the process. Do not, for example, use a divorce lawyer who is a friend of a friend who offers to help out – eviction lawyers will often offer lower rates and take less time since it is their area of expertise. The laws in South Africa tend to protect the tenant above the landlord so please tread carefully!