Download Lease Agreements

What is a lease agreement?

The meaning of a lease is a contractual agreement between a landlord (lessor) and a tenant (lessee). The terms by which the landlord allows the tenant temporary use of his/her dwelling is set out in the property lease agreement.

For the duration of the lease, as set out in the lease agreement, the tenant agrees to regularly pay the landlord a fixed monetary amount known as rent. A short lease covers a period under ten years, while a long lease covers a period of ten years or more.

Property to let can be either residential or commercial. A residential lease agreement is covered under the Rental Housing Act. The Consumer Protection Act, the Constitution of South Africa Act and the Deeds Registry Act have an impact on lease agreements.

In terms of the Rental Housing Act, a lease agreement can be either verbal or written. However, to safeguard the interests of both the landlord and the tenant, a written lease agreement is preferable in case of a dispute. By law, a landlord must provide a tenant with a written lease agreement should the tenant request one.

A written lease agreement must include:

  • Names and addresses of the tenant and the landlord
  • Description (i.e. room, flat, house etc.) and address of a the property
  • The rent amount and potential escalation
  • The frequency of rental payments (i.e. month to month)
  • The lease period
  • The deposit amount and conditions
  • The notice period with regards to termination of the lease agreement
  • Obligations of the landlord and the tenant
  • Any other costs which are the responsibility of the tenant (i.e. water and electricity)
  • A list of existing defects relating to the property and the arrangement with regards to repairs
  • Rules and conditions of occupancy – if any (usually in a separate document attached)
  • A list of the furniture and contents of the property (usually in a separate document attached)

A written lease agreement may not include:

  • A penalty for late payment of rent, other than interest
  • Discrimination against the race, gender, marital status, age, disability or religion of the tenant
  • Discrimination against any visitor of the tenant

Upon signature of the lease agreement, the two parties are bound by the terms contained in the agreement. Certain obligations will automatically apply to the landlord and the tenant unless they are specifically excluded in the lease agreement.

Obligations of the landlord

  • To ensure the property is available for occupation on the agreed date.
  • To deliver the property in the condition agreed upon.
  • To ensure the condition of the property is maintained for the duration of the lease agreement.
  • To respect the tenant’s right to privacy by allowing the tenant undisturbed use of the property.
  • To guarantee the tenant will not be evicted by a third party.
  • To pay the property’s rates and taxes imposed by the municipality.

Obligations of the tenant

  • To pay the agreed rent to the landlord on the agreed time.
  • To take proper care of the property and not to use it for any other purpose other than that agreed upon in the lease.
  • To return the property in the same condition as it was received, with the exception of fair wear and tear.
  • To vacate the property on termination of the lease agreement.

Deposit

The lease agreement must contain the details regarding the deposit amount payable. The deposit usually amounts to one- to two months’ rent. It is payable before occupancy of the property takes place.

The purpose of paying a deposit is to provide the landlord with insurance against possible damage to the property and/or failure to pay rent. The deposit should be held in a trust by the landlord and may not be used to cover the rent amount at any time during the lease period.

Upon termination on the lease agreement, the deposit may be used to cover any outstanding amounts and/or damage to the property. If the outgoing inspection of the property revealed no damage, the landlord has to refund the deposit to the tenant within seven days after the expiry of the lease. However, in the case of damage repairs, the landlord has 14 days to refund the deposit to the tenant after the repairs were made.

Cancellation or termination of a lease agreement

A lease agreement terminates:

  • When it expires
  • When there was a breach in the agreement by either party
  • In the event of the death of either party
  • Due to insolvency

Lease Agreement Template for South Africa

You can download the following lease agreement templates/sample for free: