As tenants, there are many rights that you have when it comes to your welfare on the property, but there are also many responsibilities that you need to be aware of, paying the rent being one of the biggest.
Failure to pay rent on time can result in a breach of contract and this might lead to eviction.
There are many myths surrounding rent payment as well as the standard procedure of paying your rent on time. Here is a simple breakdown so that you can ensure your rent is on time, every time:
When — Time for payment
The due date for payment is stipulated in your lease.
If you are paying via EFT, the money must be in the landlord’s account by the appointed date.
If payment is still being processed on the due date, you are in breach of contract even if you notified them that you paid.
Where — Place for payment
Payment will be paid into the landlord’s nominal account.
Making payment into any other account, (for example, paying a plumber for something you wanted the landlord to do or paying into the municipality’s account), will not count as payment.
The same goes for payment to a body corporate instead of your landlord.
How — Manner of payment
You are breaching the lease if you make payment in any other manner that is not stipulated in the lease (for example paying cash when the lease stipulates rent should be paid via EFT).
If you pay cash or deposit directly into the landlord’s bank account, you will be held responsible for any additional bank charges.
What — Penalties for late payment
Landlords are not legally permitted to charge you any amount except for interest if your rent is late.
There are, however, other types of action a landlord might take against you…
What if — Breach of lease
Not paying rent on time will result in a breach of the lease. It happens automatically without your landlord having to notify you.
There are false rumors flying around that tenants have seven days to pay after the due date and a landlord can immediately take the following action against you if rent is late:
- Suing you: It is legal for your landlord to immediately sue you without giving you notice of your breach, if this is provided for in your lease. In this case, the landlord will consult with an attorney and you will be held liable for the taxed legal costs. Once an order is granted against you and you have still not paid the outstanding rent, the landlord can obtain a warrant of execution against you.
- Attaching your goods: The landlord has the right to ‘attach’ your goods and sell it at an auction to make up for outstanding rent. In this case, a landlord engages with an attorney to issue a rent interdict summons. A sheriff will then arrive to make a list of your belongings and later fetch them to store it until a public auction can be held.
- Cancellation: The landlord is legally obliged to give you 20 business days to pay your outstanding rent. If payment is not made within this period, the landlord can cancel the lease and evict you. This applies to both verbal and written leases.
- Eviction: A landlord may only evict a tenant with after obtaining a court order. However, this may be obtained immediately after cancellation of the lease and the landlord is not obliged to give the tenant additional time to sort out their affairs. If the landlord has to instruct a sheriff to carry out the order, the tenant will be held responsible for legal costs.
- Listing on ITC: Many landlords can list tenants on ITC (or another credit bureau) if outstanding rent has not been paid.