We often rent out our house for short ho...

Asked by Barry Pike on 08-01-2015 12:23:10
Question posted in the General Law category relating to Western Cape
Question value: R 160.00

We often rent out our house for short holiday lets. We generally deal with Company A with whom we sign each specific short term lease. This year guests from Holland came via Company B whom we have never met, they apparently have some sort of a tie up with Company A.
The guests are now claiming compensation for fleas that appeared during the heat wave. We have been renting for many years now and always have the carpets professionally cleaned prior to renting and have never had this issue before.
Question 1) do they have a claim? and if so, 2) surely they would claim through Company B with whom we have no contract?
Please advise.
Barry Pike.

Answer to the Question

Posted by Att. Patrick on 08-01-2015 13:00:35
Hi there and thank you for your question,

In order for the guests to have a claim against you in delict, they will need to prove that you knew (or could have known) about the potential (or actual) flee problem, and that you could forsee the harm that might be suffered by the guests, and you did nothing to stop the harm from happening.

e.g. You always have flees every December. You normally get the carpets cleaned, but this time you didn't. You knew that the flees could harm your guests by doing XYZ.  Your guests would then have a claim against you.

If they can't prove the above, they don't have a claim.

My advice would be to write back to them and explain that you've never had a flee problem before; that you always professionally clean the carpets; that if there was a flee problem then besides some irritation there was no actual harm suffered; that they don't have a claim.

If your guests paid Company B for the holiday, and then Company B paid you, then you are partially correct: if there was a claim for a refund, then Company B would be the company that would need to make the refund claim. But in this instance I'm sure that the guests claim is for damage/harm suffered, and this could only be claimed by the person who suffered the damage/harm - not the Company B.

You've got to separate a contractual claim, from a delictual claim.

Your contract MIGHT actually include a clause that limits the claims that could be brought against you. Have a careful look at the contract to see the exclusions and/or limitations. If might also exclude issues of negligence on your behalf - which would be really good. If it does, then ensure that you mention that as well.

A claim for pain & suffering (if any) would be VERY limited indeed. I can't put a figure on it, but I would guess less than R1000. 

If there is a part of the answer which you need more advice on, or clarity please continue in this same thread instead of opening a new question.

Att. Patrick

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