Violation of the CPA and Rental Housing Act? What can my recourse be?
Please advise on the following.
I am currently in the midst of a dispute with a rental agency. I gave the agency more than 20 days notice of my intention to cancel the fixed term agreement effective the 31st of December, which they accepted.
I did my part in securing a new tenant (whom has already paid a deposit), however the agency has allowed her to only move in at the end of January—without informing me of this intention. I was then informed, only after I had vacated the premises, that I will be responsible for the rent of January (even though I have officially cancelled the lease as effective 31st of December).
They are also holding my deposit until the new tenant moves in, from which they will deduct a further cancellation fee of R800. The agent is also refusing to do an outgoing inspection until the end of January.
Please advise on this, as I feel that it is unfair treatment and in contravention of the CPA and RHA.
Hello. On your facts you are correct with respect to the legal position. Your next course of action will be to lay a complaint at the Rental and Housing Tribunal. Other options are to report the agency to the Estates Agents Board and also to sue them for your deposit at the small claims court ( Magistrates Court ). The jurisdiction is up to 15000 rand. It’s done without lawyers and will thus cost you little. Write a letter to the agents warning them that you regard the retention of your deposit as theft and that you will be taking appropriate action. All the best.
Your concern is clearly put, however you did not put forward the reason advanced by the Agency for its behaviour. For instance, if the lease contract stipulates 30 days notice period, and a lesser period is given by the tenant, the Agent or Agency might withhold compliance. You hinted that they accepted the notice…they can refute it if you have no proof to establish that yes and indeed they consented.
If you feel strongly that the Agency is in the breach, what you should do is to lodge a complaint with the Rental Housing Tribunal without delay. They have effective mechanism in place in this regard. Thank you.