Our vetting process: ensuring that only quality tenants move into your property

In order to guarantee landlords’ rental income, we need to do a very thorough vetting of the prospective tenant – we are, after all, taking on the risk. The fact that a prospective tenant may wear a fancy watch and drive a shiny new car is no guarantee that they are good for the money come rent-time – in fact it might indicate that they have totally different priorities when it comes to their finances!

In this article we offer some insight into how we go about vetting prospective tenants and also what landlords can do to speed up the process – the easier our job is, the quicker we can have an answer for you.

In a nutshell, we need to ensure that the tenant is who they say they are, can afford the rent, have a secure and reliable source of income and have a good payment history. The tenant fills in our Rental Application form, in which they give us a breakdown of their income and expenses, as well as contact details of their current employer and landlord and permission to draw a TPN RentCheck credit report.

Before we even start – the deal-breaker: affordability

A tenant must earn at least three times the monthly rental amount after income tax has been deducted from their salary. We add in any other deductions – such as medical aid, housing, pension, etc – that the employer may have deducted. If the tenant does not make the affordability means test, they may ask a co-tenant (usually a partner, but it could be a flat mate) to be a co-signatory on the lease agreement. In this case we can combine their salaries.

The paperwork. All the paperwork

Signing up to RentMaster’s service is a two-part process. The landlord needs to sign a mandate and give us supporting information and once they have found a prospective tenant, the tenant fills in the Rental Application form and sends through supporting information (copy of ID, most recent salary slip, most recent three months’ bank statements). We can only commence with vetting once we have all the information – complete and up-to-date – in hand.

Please also ensure that the information supplied on the forms is legible. (Ideally, please open our forms in Adobe Acrobat and type in your information – this saves us many hours of deciphering!)

Special cases

In certain cases, we will require additional information to vet a tenant, including:

  • Self-employed tenants: we need EITHER
    •  a letter from a certified Accountant confirming Gross and Nett income and Independently verified/audited Financial Statements of the latest financial year.
    • OR SARS IRP5 for last tax year or SARS assessment (ITA34)
  •  Tenants who do not have an SA ID
    • Copy of Passport
    • Valid Residency or Work permit

We would never decline a tenant simply because they don’t have an SA ID or are self-employed but be aware that it may take longer to complete the vetting because of the additional information required.

Time to start vetting

Now we check all the information against each other:

  • Does the salary the tenant claims to earn reflect with the salary slip and the bank statements?
  • We call the employer to establish if the tenant is permanently employed

Financial maturity

The tenant makes a declaration of their income and expenses on the rental application form. In cases where we there are many risk factors, we may escalate the application to our legal manager for an opinion of the financial maturity of the applicant. If, for example, a tenant claims to spend R100 per month on dining out, and the evidence in the bank statements reveals that on average the amount is tenfold that, it may indicate a lack of financial acumen that could count against the tenant.

Payment history

The TPN RentCheck credit report is a powerful resource in the vetting process. We draw this report for every tenant who will be signing the lease agreement. It gives us an indication of the likelihood of the tenant paying their rent based on their past financial behavior and includes information on the tenant’s payment of their rent, credit cards, store cards, mobile phone account, unsecured loans, motor vehicles payments – any debt that they pay off on a monthly basis. It also lists any judgements of debt against the tenant.

In our next article we will take an in-depth look at the TPN RentCheck report.



The new Property Practitioners Act: a landlord’s perspective

We checked in with Sonja Wijnja, RentMaster’s Legal Manager to find out whether the Property Practitioners Act (PPA) is likely to affect landlords. Over to you, Sonja:

Firstly, the Act was signed by the president, but it is not yet effective and it is not clear when it will come into effect. We are currently following the old Estate Agency Affairs Act until the PPA becomes effective.  For the record, the new Rental Housing Act was signed by the president about 3 years ago, and it is still not effective, so it might be a while still.

The PPA will not have a direct effect on private landlord as it regulates Estate Agents and not private individuals. There will probably be some knock-on effect for private landlords when selling their properties as the PPA will require estate agents to declare in writing any defects that a property might have.  It is not clear whether the same will be required when renting out a property, but since landlords are already required to perform an ingoing inspection with the tenant under the Rental Housing Act, we do not foresee this having an impact on RentMaster landlords.

 From the last draft that was presented to the public it seems that a lot of things will remain the same.  The biggest changes are:

  • The appointment of an ombud to whom issues may be escalated — the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) currently deals with issues internally. There will likely be some sort of fee payable by estate agencies which may have an impact on fees when landlords purchase or sell property through an agent. 
  • Estate agencies will have to become BEE complaint and have a BEE compliance certificate in order to trade.  In addition, agencies will have to have not only a fidelity fund certificate, but also a tax clearance certificate.

For now, it seems that the training requirements for estate agents (logbook, exams etc) will remain the same but the power to amend this is given to the new PPA governing body.

Thanks, Sonja!

For more information about the PPA, read TPN’s detailed article here



On the expiry of the lease – a case for adding a little time into the equation


In our communication with landlords we try to stress the importance of sending us their new tenant documentation early in the month to avoid unnecessary stress and possible disappointment. While month-end stress is part of the job for us, we thought we would break down the registration and vetting process to show landlords how they can ensure a smooth tenant turn-around process.

At around three months before your tenants current lease agreement is up for renewal you will need to make two important decisions:

Decision #1:

Do you want to keep your current tenant or would you like them to move out? Your current lease agreement should give you the option to terminate if you are not happy with the tenant. It is wise to bear in mind factors such as current economic conditions – a tenant in the hand who is a 99% good tenant may be worth much more than the possibility of having no tenant at all. For the purposes of this article, let’s assume that either landlord or tenant decide to terminate. By law a landlord needs to notify the tenant 40 – 80 business days before the expiration of the lease agreement whether or not they plan to renew or terminate the lease.

Decision #2:

Are you prepared to forgo one month’s rent and invest some money in order to get your place ship-shape for your next tenant? You could potentially procure a better tenant at a higher rental. Remember, even if there are no damages, your rental property investment is subject to wear and tear and all homes need some love and attention from time to time.

Consider scenario A:
Think-Ahead Thelma decides to give her current tenant notice and sign up with RentMaster

Investing the time and money in giving her unit a “face-lift down time” will reduce the stress levels of all parties concerned:

  • The exiting tenant will be able to move out on the last day of the month (their legal right) without the landlord breathing down their neck
  • Landlord and tenant can perform the exit inspection with a clear view of the property and all damages. (By law the joint exit inspection must be conducted no more than three days prior to the tenant vacating, although we suggest you do this inspection after the tenant has moved their belongings to best be able to determine any damage)
  • The landlord gets a quotation to repair any damages which is deducted from the security deposit. Remember in terms of the Rental Housing Act the landlord has 14 days to affect the repairs and refund the tenant the remaining deposit. If the tenant failed to attend the outgoing inspection the landlord must perform the outgoing inspection on their own within 7 days from the date that the tenant vacated. In such a case the deposit only has to be refunded within 21 days from date of the expiration of the lease. Releasing the deposit is the most common source of anxiety for the tenant, who invariably relies on the deposit to secure a new place
  • The landlord has time to fix the place up properly and focus on finding a good tenant
  • The new tenant can view the newly spruced-up property without tripping over the clutter and drama of the vacating tenant
  • When calculating the new rental, the landlord has factored in half a month’s vacancy per year (assuming a lease agreement period is two years, the legal limit)
  • The landlord has more than enough time to sign up to RentMaster’s rental collection service:
    • The landlord fills in the Mandate and supporting documentation
    • The tenant fills in the Rental Application plus supporting documentation
    • The landlord pays R105 for the credit check
    • When all the above is complete and up-to-date, RentMaster vets and approves the tenant. (Bear in mind:
      • If the tenant is declined, the landlord will have to find a new tenant and submit new forms and documentation
      • It might take us a little while to get through to the correct person at the tenant’s employer – one of our check-points)
    • The landlord and tenant do the entrance inspection, which is included in the lease agreement supplied by RentMaster
    • The landlord and tenant sign the lease agreement and send it to RentMaster
    • The tenant signs a debit order authority
    • The tenant pays RentMaster the deposit
    • Once the preceding three steps are completed, RentMaster adds the tenant to the debit order run
    • The tenant can move in.

Now imagine scenario B:
Last-Minute Lucy gives her current tenant notice and mandates RentMaster to collect the rent from her next tenant:

All of the above but squashed in at the end of the month, remembering that after the 20th of the month we cannot guarantee that we will have the vetting completed by month end.

So, ask yourself: do you really want to add so much stress to your life?

Pre-screen your tenant with these questions

If you have chosen to go it alone and find your own tenant, you might find that you have several prospective tenants wishing to rent your property. But how do you choose one over the others? Maybe some insight into how we vet tenants will help you.

We look at three main areas when vetting a tenant:

The tenant’s credit & payment history

We draw a TPN RentCheck credit report to give us an idea of how well the tenant has paid their rent and other credit accounts in the past. It also tells us if they have had any defaults or judgements listed. You are welcome to draw this report yourself (with the tenant’s permission of course). It costs about R105. This report gives a credit score of A to F (there is no D). In most instances we would decline a tenant with an E or F, but we also look at the payment trend. In some instances, a person may have run into trouble – whether due to their own wrong-doing or circumstances beyond their control – but we can see a steady improvement in their payment behaviour.
Questions to ask: 
Do you have any judgements against you? If yes, for what amount and why?
Do I have permission to draw a TPN credit report? (if they refuse, they are a non-starter) 

Source & security of income 

Here we are looking for stability. First prize is someone with permanent employment who has been at the same company for several years.
Sources of income that are more risky include:

  • self-employment (some months are good, some are bad); 
  • commission (ditto); 
  • maintenance (ex-spouses can be fickle);
  • investments (interest rates & share values fluctuate) and 
  • rental income (tenants can be unreliable payers). 

In the case of less secure income sources, we might ask for a larger security deposit, or to see the self-employed tenant’s company financials.

Questions to ask: 
Are you employed?
For how long have you been with the company?
Can I have the contact details of your employer?
If self-employed: Can you provide audited accounts, failing which management accounts and bank statements of your company?


As a rule of thumb, a tenant’s take home pay should not be less than three times the rent. Besides the rent, he might have also entered into many commitments that are a drain on his income: mobile phones, insurance, medical, security, credit card repayments, other debt repayments. To draw a realistic image of affordability, you should ideally have a good picture of these monthly commitments. Many landlords are impressed by a potential tenant with a fancy watch, clothes or car, but you always need to do thorough research.

Questions to ask:
Besides the rent, what are your monthly commitments?

Final thoughts

As the landlord ask for the contact details of previous landlords – preferably two or more – who will hopefully be able shed light on the tenant’s behaviour, for example did they respect the rules as laid out in the rental agreement or body corporate and did they look after the property. One word of caution, though, if a landlord is desperate to get rid of an unruly tenant, they might sing his praises.

And lastly, remember that it is against the constitution of South Africa to discriminate against a potential tenant in terms of race, religion, gender, sexuality, disability or age.


Finding your rental sweet spot

So, you have a property that you wish to rent out. But how do you set a fair price? If you set the price too high, you’ll probably struggle to find a tenant. On the other hand you would like your investment to be as profitable as possible. By doing thorough research you can establish your rental sweet spot. Here are a couple of factors to bear in mind:

Compare apples to apples. Scan the various online rental websites like www.rentbay.co.za, www.privateproperty.co.za and property24.co.za and see what similar properties in your area are renting at.

Inform yourself about the general trends in your area. For example, the property boom that Cape Town has experienced over the past couple of years seems to be coming to an end and rental agents currently have up to 30% of the properties under their management standing vacant. If you are renting out property in Cape Town, you probably won’t be able to continue increasing the rent by the percentages that the market has tolerated over the past couple of years.

Establish your bottom line. Make sure you know the minimum rent you need to cover your costs. You may find that your bond repayments will not be entirely covered by the rent and you will need to make a contribution. Do your budget and work out how much you can afford to pay in.

Study the TPN Rental Monitor. TPN’s quarterly Rental Monitors are jam-packed with valuable information about the rental market, including the tenants’ payment performance in all the provinces and also across rental bands. Here are some interesting statistics to be gleaned from the Rental Monitor:

  • In the Western Cape 89% of tenants are in good standing, as opposed to Gauteng (82%) or the Free State (78%).
  • If your rental is between R7 000 and R12 000, you are much more likely to have a tenant in good standing (87,9%), whereas the tenants who rent for more than R25000 are less likely to be in good standing (78,9). Below R3 000 good standing is down to 74,6%!

Consider your requirements for the security deposit. Tenants that are busy moving from one rented dwelling to the next often battle to afford the deposit with the previous deposit still tied up. If the deposit is too high, it may scare away prospective tenants.

Can my tenant use the deposit as the last month’s rent?

Many tenants are under the false impression that they can simply instruct the landlord to use the security deposit as the last month’s rent.

A good lease agreement would mention specifically that this is not permitted, since the main function of the security deposit is to protect the landlord against any damages to the property caused by the tenant during their occupation, as well as any unpaid rent and outstanding fees.

If your lease agreement with your tenant does not make provision therefore, you will have to depend on the Rental Housing Act. The Rental Housing Act specifically states that:

on the expiration of the lease, the landlord may apply such deposit and interest towards the payment of all amounts for which the tenant is liable”.

It is therefore clear that the Rental Housing Act also intends for the deposit to be utilised only after the lease has been terminated (whether by early cancellation or expiration).

The tenant therefore is absolutely not entitled to use the deposit as the last month’ s rental and you may deal with his non-payment as such:  a non-payment.  In theory, this may mean that you may write him a Letter of Demand, demanding that he make payment of his arrears within 20 business days.  In practice however, you are likely not to proceed in issuing a summons against him until such time as you know whether or not you are going to use the deposit for any repairs of any damages, or whether you will be able to use the deposit towards the non-payment.

Read more about the security deposit here.

Find your own tenant and save money

Wouldn’t it be nice to have an extra month’s rent in your pocket? If you decide to find a tenant yourself rather than pay a rental agent to place one for you, you’ll save yourself the placement fee – usually one month’s rent.

In a recent article we offered some pointers to take good photos of your property for your online rental advertisement. Now, what about the contents of your advert?

Step 1: Describe the property

Try to offer an accurate description of the property: if you are offering a cosy, shabby-chic cottage, don’t try to pass if off as a luxury designer pad – you don’t want to waste anyone’s time.

Here is a quick check list of information you can consider including:

  • Number of bedrooms
  • Describe the living area – is there a separate dining area?
  • Is there a study?
  • Does the bathroom have a bath and shower?
  • Is there a separate toilet?
  • What is the size of the dwelling and the property?
  • Is there a swimming pool?
  • Is there a balcony or deck
  • Does the property have a view
  • Are there any outdoor amenities such as built in braai area, jungle gym
  • Is the property furnished?
  • Are there any appliances included such as a stove, washing machine or fridge?
  • Parking: is there a garage/car port/off-street parking?
  • Are any additional services, such as garden or cleaning services included?
  • Finally, remember to include the monthly rental amount.
  • Proximity to schools, public transport & shopping centres
  • Security: Is in in a secure complex? Alternatively, is it properly fenced, in a well-lit area? What are the crime stats for your area? This is an important aspect for many people.
  • Quiet area, away from busy roads?
  • Is there a nice garden, established trees?

Step 2: Describe your dream tenant

Up to how many people may stay in the property?

Are animals allowed?

Are children allowed?

You could specify what kind of tenant you would prefer, for example vegetarian, but remember, you may not be prejudiced against people due to age, gender, sexual preferences, race, creed or culture.

You may want to state that tenants with stable employment are preferred rather than self-employed or commission earning tenants.​

Step 3: Be clear about the terms

Whether or not you intend to use RentMaster’s rental collection service, we recommend that you include the following in your advertisement:

Inform applicants that they will be required to show proof of income and affordability by tendering bank statements and payslips.

Applicants will be required to give permission to run a credit check.

The successful applicant will also need to pay the rent by debit order if Rentmaster is contracted to secure the rental collection.

Step 4: Make a date

Advertise the viewing date in your advertisement. This way, you will only need to make one viewing appointment. Most people prefer to view over a weekend. Remember to give yourself (and RentMaster) enough time to properly screen the applicant, so the middle of the month is better than the 28th!

How current water restrictions affect landlords & tenants

Times of scarcity often have the effect turning people against each other and Cape Town’s current water crisis is no exception, with many disputes regarding water usage arising between landlords and tenants. Here are some tips for landlords to help them navigate this difficult time with their tenant.

Level 5 restrictions in a nutshell

Residents may not exceed 87 litres per person per day of municipal water.

It is prohibited to use municipal water for any of the following:

  • Washing cars
  • Hosing down driveways & paving
  • Watering the garden
  • Topping up swimming pools.

Level 5 restrictions have also given the City powers to punish transgressors: residents who exceed the daily allocation will have water restricting devices installed in their water supply. What’s more, they will have to pay the R4500 for their installation. Repeat transgressors may also be liable for a fine of up to R10 000 – and even jail time.

In a recent practical article in the Daily Maverick, Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille, broke the daily 87 litres down for residents:

  • A shower for no more than 2 minutes: 20 litres
  • Drinking water: 2 litres
  • Daily hygiene: brushing teeth, washing hands, etc: 4 litres
  • Doing the dishes and laundry: 23 litres
  • Three toilet flushes: 9 x 3 = 27litres
  • Cooking: 4 litres

Total: 80 litres

Empower with knowledge

Take the time to explain the water crisis to your tenant, especially a new tenant who is not from the Western Cape and perhaps not au fait with the severity of the situation. Make sure she is aware of how many litres of water go into daily activities like showering and loo flushing.

Encourage her to save water by placing buckets in the shower to reuse grey water in the toilet and garden. Also let her know about social media pages such as Watershedding Western Cape on Facebook, where she will find a wealth of information and ideas.

Make sure that she also knows what she is not allowed to use municipal water for – see above.

Consider investing in some water-wise improvements

  • Plant indigenous flora and/or succulents in your garden and remove thirsty lawns.
  • Install a water tank to harvest the rainwater from your roof. This water can also be used to top up your pool. You will be amazed at how quickly the tank fills up!
  • Cover the swimming pool with a quality pool cover to limit evaporation.
  • Consider installing a well-point.
  • If your rental property is divided into several units, consider installing a water meter in each unit and not just splitting the water account by the number of units. Most people are only incentivised to do their part if they can see the direct benefit – or the punishment for not doing their bit.

These investments will make your property more attractive to prospective tenants, especially since it is predicted that water scarcity is here to stay in the Western Cape and that we can expect to pay more for water in the future.

If disputes arise…

Level 5 restrictions give the City the teeth to go after water abusers with water restricting devices, fines of up to R10 000 and even jail time. What happens if your tenant uses too much water and the city fines you as the property owner? We asked RentMaster’s legal officer, Sonja Wijnja.

“As with most tenant/landlord disputes, we need to look at the lease agreement. Any lease agreement worth its salt will stipulate that the tenant must observe the laws and municipal by-laws, even if the by-laws have been changed after the tenant has moved in.

“So in the case of water restrictions the tenant is obliged to observe the local by-laws governing the use of water – even if they have changed since signing the lease agreement. The municipality will fine the landlord, but the landlord will be able to pass the fine on to the tenant. The same applies to water restricting devices – if the tenant used too much water, they would be liable for the installation costs of the device.”

But what if the tenant is using too much water because there are leaks in the pipes?

“Maintenance is one of the most often disputed areas of landlord/tenant relations, but one would again start by looking at the lease agreement. In general, the landlord is responsible for the structure of the property, which would usually include the (unless the lease agreement specifically states that the tenant is responsible for this). One would also have to look at whether the pipes are part of the structure and whether the burst was caused (or could have been reasonably prevented) by the tenant.”

If the lease agreement requires the tenant to maintain the garden or pool, can the landlord hold her liable in the case of a drought?

“As far as water usage is concerned, definitely not, as he would be requiring the tenant to transgress the municipal by-laws. The tenant may still be required to perform other garden maintenance tasks such as weeding, mowing the lawn, etc. However, if the landlord has provided adequate water from an alternative source, such as a well-point or rainwater tanks, he would be in his rights.”

In summary, it is always best to prevent potential disputes by having a frank discussion about such issues up front to ensure that all parties are in agreement as to their respective responsibilities, and then to ensure that such agreements are properly recorded and included in or attached to the lease agreement as an annexure. The best attitude for tenants and landlords to adopt is to work together to overcome these trying times.

Watch out for deposit fraudsters!

As the silly season approaches we see the predictable increase in activity of scammers and con-artists defrauding the public of their hard-earned money. Deon Botha, CEO of specialist Rental guarantee company Rentmaster says “Scams to steal money paid across as security deposits to secure rental property is an old trick that can easily be detected and prevented with some basic security checks before paying across your money”.

Scam # 1: Hijack and sell what’s not yours

The scam works as follows. The scammer picks an area that is in demand, in other words where there are many people looking for a place to stay, typically more than there are available places. This creates competition, and people are frequently disappointed finding places taken by the time they make an enquiry. As such people have to move fast to secure a place as it becomes available.

The scammer then finds a suitable listing on one of the online market places, frequently Gumtree as anybody can quickly and easily create a listing with no security checks of any kind. He or she then uploads the photos of an existing listing, and creates a new listing with their contact details. They frequently also offer it at an excellent price to make it even more attractive.

When interested tenants make contact, either by email or by mobile phone, their story is usually that “Yes, the place is still available but there have been many enquiries. The first one to pay the security deposit secures the place”. When the tenant asks to view the place first, they are given the run-around, at times even arriving at a location only to have the appointment cancelled due to an “emergency” of sorts. The scammer also usually uses an application form from a reputable organisation they have sourced somewhere to lend them credibility.

Here are some warning signs to look out for:

  1. The person is vague when asked when you can view the place. They make excuses about how busy they are and how many people are enquiring. They offer viewing appointments at a time still to be confirmed.
  2. They keep telling you that there are other interested parties and that payment of the security deposit will secure the place.
  3. The bank account they provide for payment is in their own name, not in the name of the agency whose application form they offered.

You can identify these scams with some basic fact-checking up front.

  1. If they offer you an application form, call the company and verify that this person is an authorised agent. Make sure you’re speaking to the company and not an imposter, a friend of the scammer who’s briefed to answer a cell phone and put your mind at ease. Verify the agency’s contact number from their website or by obtaining it from a trusted source like directory enquiries,
  2. If they claim to be an estate agent, verify their membership with the Estate Agency Affairs Board. You can do this online at their website eaab.org.za where all agents and agencies are listed. Ensure that they have a valid Fidelity Certificate that protects your security deposit from theft and misappropriation.
  3. If they claim to be the owner, insist on viewing the property. Do not get pressurised into paying a deposit to secure the place before you’ve met the owner at the property itself.

Scam # 2: Sell what’s yours… over and over

Unfortunately, there’s an even more sophisticated and brazen variation on above. The scammer actually obtains a rental property, typically under a fraudulent or stolen identity. They pay the real owner a security deposit, and then promptly re-advertise the place as available. They then take security deposits from several parties at the same time, who arrive at the property, each one thinking they are the new legitimate tenant, having signed a lease and paid their deposit. The scammer invested one month’s rent to secure the place and then rapidly achieved a 5-times or more return by on-selling the lease illegally, disappearing into the night leaving behind a throng of angry people arguing about who actually has the right to move in.

This one is much harder to pull off and thus quite rare, but it does happen. It is also harder to prevent or detect as it all seems above board. The only practical way to prevent this is to make an effort to find out if the person offering the rental is in fact the registered owner or an authorised agent. Ask them to prove it by furnishing for example a rates bill from the municipality.

Botha advises landlords and tenants to: “check the credentials of all parties involved thoroughly before you hand over money or keys. If it smells fishy it probably is and if it sounds too good to be true, ditto”.

What happens when a natural disaster renders your rental property uninhabitable?

Have you ever wondered what might happen if a natural disaster – such as this past week’s floods in Durban – causes such severe damage that your tenant can no longer occupy the property? Are you obliged to find alternative accommodation for your tenant? Must they continue paying the rent? And is anyone liable for damage to property?

It is very important to ensure that your lease agreement contains a force majeure clause to deal with this eventuality. A force majeure is a chance occurrence or unavoidable accident that frees both landlord and tenant from liability or obligation when circumstances beyond their control prevent them from fulfilling their contractual obligations. Some examples include acts of God, such as an earthquake, flood or volcanic eruption or situations of war, strike or riot. For the duration of the disaster, a landlord would not be obliged to provide accommodation and the tenant would not be obliged to pay rent.

There are two main ways that lease agreements address such extraordinary events: either by terminating the agreement or by proposing a remedy, for example that each party insures themselves against loss or damage. By automatically terminating the agreement, neither party can claim for damages. Whether it appears in the lease agreement or not, we strongly recommend that both landlord and tenant insure the property and contents against damage or loss in the face of disaster.

It is important that the landlord initiates repairs to the damaged property as soon as possible to return the property to a habitable condition.

If the lease agreement does not specifically deal with these catastrophe situations, then normal civil case law will apply, and either party will have to pursue the other for their damages. The laws of damages and liability are very complex and proving liability and quantifying damages can be a daunting legal challenge, very expensive and time-consuming. It is best to avoid this through proper up-front agreement as described above

In summary:

  • Make sure your lease agreement contains a clause that deals with disaster situations
  • Make sure you have adequate insurance for your property and inform your tenant that she is responsible for insuring her furniture and possessions
  • Be sensible in time of crisis and remain calm and constructive in your engagement with the other party.