My name is Mr ZubaBeen renting a propert...

Asked by Siya on 28-02-2024 17:35:11
Question posted in the Property Law category relating to Eastern Cape

My name is Mr Zuba

Been renting a property for the past 3 years.

So on the 1 of February I was away for a week, then when I got back, I found the ceiling collapsed.

I immediately contacted the property managers, I informed them of the damage.

They said I should wait, so till today there is no response.

They keep telling me that the insurance of the owner is refusing to pay for the fixing of the roof. 

My question is, my are my options here. Seeing that the owner is not fixing. Can i just move out without a notice?

I cant continue staying there, seeing also that I have 1 year old child who gets exposed to the cold that comes from open ceiling

Am I expected to pay full rent at the end of the month?

Further information relating to Question:

Not yet

Message from the Lawyer

Posted by Att. Patrick on 28-02-2024 20:45:54

Hi there and thank you for your question,

I am a practicing attorney based in South Africa and I will assist you with your question. Please feel free to ask as many follow up questions in order to clarify your question. If you have a new question, you must please open a new thread.

Please keep in mind that our discussions is for general information purposes only. Our engagement on this website does not create an attorney-client relationship. 

Can i just move out without a notice? --> No, you can't just move out without notice. You need to terminate the lease agreement properly. 

Can you please explain which section of the house has the ceiling which has collapsed, and which sections of the house you can still use?  I need a clear understanding of the situation.

e.g. is it the kitchen's ceiling, or a storeroom's ceiling, or a bedroom ceiling?

Message from the client

The section of the house that ceiling collapsed is actually the sitting room
Can still use the kitchen, the sleeping rooms, and the bathroom.
But that whole in the ceiling brings lot of cold air and brings lots of dust, making it difficult to use the sitting room.
The owner is quiet and is saying nothing, even the property managers have given up.

Message from the client

To give further background, so I am staying in an upstairs apartment and there another apartment downstairs from where I am staying.

So the apartment downstairs' geyser is apparently installed upstairs in the apartment where I am staying. So apparently the geyser of the house downstairs from me which is in my apartment(upstairs) burst and water leaked from my apartment. So the owner of the apartment called her insurance/propery managers I am not sure, to come and fix. So the people who came to assess the damage in the apartment(mine) suspect that the collapse of the ceiling was propably caused by the people who came to fix the geyser of the apartment downstairs. I think they want those people to come and fix, they apparently promised to come but still today they havnt come. But thats not my problem, right? Its the owner who must make sure the apartment I rent is habitable

Message from the Lawyer

Posted by Att. Patrick on 29-02-2024 12:01:28

Yes, it is the owner of your apartment (i.e. your landlord) who needs to do whatever is necessary in order for your apartment to be habitable so that you can live there. If the landlord is not doing what is needed, then you could argue that your apartment is not habitable and you could eventually cancel your lease. But you would first need to send the landlord a letter of demand, saying that he has XXX days to ensure that the issue is fixed, otherwise you reserve your rights to cancel the lease agreement and vacate the premises. This is really your ultimate threat - moving out. This will then kick your landlord into gear so that he speaks to whoever needs to be spoken to in order to get the ceiling fixed! 

Message from the client

Am I expected to pay full rent for this month? Because I have asked him to re-consider his price for this month, because the apartment is in the condition its in and I don't think I should pay full rent as if the apartment did not have a problem. I sent him an email via property managers but still as usual no response

Message from the Lawyer

Posted by Att. Patrick on 29-02-2024 15:20:07

Your landlord should definitely agree with you to reduce your rental for the month because you have not had the use and enjoyment of the entire property. I see that you've already sent him an email in this regard and he hasn't responded. What you can do is tell him that you're holding back 20% of the rental as a result of this, given that you are not able to use the sitting room and see what he says. 

Message from the client

Thank you for the above advice
I have done as you advised and wrote him a letter of demand, telling him to fix the property otherwise I reserve the right to cancel the lease agreement and move out. So immediately the following day he responded via property managers that he has hired someone to come and fix the roof.
So I asked him/them to re-consider the rent for February, I spent the whole of February in an apartment that has a giant sinkhole on the ceiling and I don't think its fair that I should pay full price. So he did not respond. So I ended up paying 20% less the normal amount. Till to date he hasn't responded. The property managers told me today that he hasn't responded and they think that the price will likely be not be reduced. Is this lawful? what are my options as a tenant?

Message from the Lawyer

Posted by Att. Patrick on 09-03-2024 08:26:28

Unfortunately, unless there is an agreement, the law requires you to comply with the terms of the lease agreement. You must therefore push the property manager and the landlord to agree on the reduced rental. Otherwise, you'll need to pay the full rental, or you must continue to pay the reduced rental and know that the landlord could sue you for the shortfall. 

If you would like to view the entire answer, you will need to either login or register a FREE account.


DISCLAIMER: Advice or answers from Lawyers on South African Legal Advice are not substitutes for the proper advice of an Lawyer. South African Legal Advice is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Lawyer who assists with your question is not your Lawyer, and the response above is not to be considered to be legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains. The responses above are from individual Lawyers, not South African Legal Advice. The site and services are provided “as is”. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service.