Question posted in the Landlord Tenant Law category relating to Western Cape
I signed surety for my daughter's lease and because of the national lockdown she lost her employment. she was forced to vacate the premises under lockdown level 4. i am now paying as I signed surety for her and have been paying R1000.00 per month. her layer is now saying I need to pay more or they will sue me, can you please advise what I should do?
Information Requested by Lawyer
Hi there and thank you for your question,
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Answer to the Question
Why do you say that your daughter was "forced" to vacate the premises under lockdown level 4? Surely she was not forced from a legal point of view, but rather because she lost her job and couldn't pay the rental?
At any rate, I am assuming that your daughter signed the lease herself, in her personal capacity, and that it was residential premises.
I am also assuming that you / your daughter never sent the landlord a letter, specifically advising the landlord that your daughter had elected to terminate the lease agreement in accordance with section 14 of the Consumer Protection Act, and that she gave the landlord 20 business days notice of this election?
Have a look at s14 of the CPA - as it gives a tenant the ability to cancel a fixed term agreement by giving the supplier (the landlord) 20 business days notice of termination! After the 20 business days, the lease is terminated. No more lease; no more rental payments.
However, the landlord is entitled to claim a reasonable cancellation penalty from the tenant - which is about 1 months' rental. Normally, most landlords simply keep the deposit because it is normally 1 months' rental.
So, if your daughter has previously sent a letter of termination of lease, then stop paying in terms of your suretyship.
If your daughter has not yet sent the letter, send it! Today. Now. And then the lease will terminate in 20 business days' time. Then you'll unfortunately need to do a recon with the landlord as to the arrear rental, and what payments have been made, and then see how much more you owe.
The quicker you cancel; the sooner you can stop paying!