I couldn’t take the rental, landlord is keeping my deposit - is this legal?
A Property24 reader asks:
On the 13 of June I paid a deposit on a rental property for occupation on 1 July, but due to unforeseen circumstances I am no longer able to take the unit. I have not signed any lease agreement, we had all our communications via SMS. I have told the landlord I'm not expecting the full deposit back and I can assist with getting a new tenant, but he refuses and is not willing to refund a cent of my deposit. Is this legal?
Kim Bam (LLB), Candidate attorney at Alan Levy Attorneys responds:
Verbal agreements are contracts that have been agreed upon by means of spoken communication. Despite it not being in writing, a verbal agreement still counts as an enforceable contract, legally binding on all parties involved.
What you can expect to pay for rent across SA's major cities
There is no doubt that the lockdown has left many South Africans reeling from a partial, temporary or even permanent loss of income, with affordability of rentals and lease agreements crucial as the country eases into Enhanced Level 3 of Lockdown.
During March 2020, when South Africa began its full Lockdown, just over 20% of tenants were in arrears, increasing to almost 24% in April. This is according to PayProp's rental Index for 2020.
Johette Smuts, head of data and analytics at PayProp SA says, “While we have already seen an increase in both the percentage of tenants in arrears and arrears as a percentage of rent in April, we expect May and June to be even worse. This position and the debt recovery process will be influenced by the pandemic, the lockdown levels and their duration."
How to use the latest interest rate cuts (and bond payments) to your benefit
South Africa's interest rate is at a historic 50-year low, giving homeowners a little wiggle room, even in these very challenging times. But the advice from John Manyike, Head of Financial Education at Old Mutual is simple, "Take a long-term view of the benefits of the rate cut to maximise its positive impact on your finances, especially if you can afford to pay a little bit more than what is required."
“The rate cut will leave homeowners with some surplus cash, providing some much-needed relief, given the economic constraints caused by Covid-19,” he says. “But while the additional cash may come in handy during these tough times, homeowners need to consider maintaining their home loan repayments at pre-rate cut levels. Depending on how long you maintain the additional payments, doing this could significantly reduce the total interest you pay and shorten the loan repayment term.”