Basic facts about obligations & rights of tenants in South Africa

Basic facts about obligations & rights of tenants in South Africa
01 May 2022

Navigating the rental market in South Africa can be daunting, especially for first-time tenants. Knowing your rights and responsibilities as a lessee ensures a positive renting experience. This post will delve into the world of renter’s laws in South Africa, highlighting critical aspects that every tenant should know.

Tenant Rights under the Rental Housing Act

The Rental Housing Act governs the relationship between lessors and tenants in South Africa. This Act provides a framework for the rights and obligations of both parties, ensuring a fair and equitable renting environment. Some fundamental rights afforded to tenants under this Act include:

  1. Right to a Habitable Property: Tenants have the right to safe, clean property in good repair. Landlords are responsible for ensuring that the property meets these standards before the tenant moves in and throughout the lease term.
  2. Right to Privacy: According to the renter’s laws, tenants are entitled to privacy and quiet enjoyment of the rented property. Landlords must provide reasonable notice before entering the property (usually 24 hours) and cannot interfere with the tenant’s peaceful enjoyment.
  3. Right to a Written Lease Agreement: Tenants have the right to a written lease agreement outlining the terms and conditions of the tenancy. This agreement should include information such as rental amount, deposit requirements, and the duration of the lease.

Obligations of Tenants

While tenants have rights under the Rental Housing Act, they also have obligations to fulfil. These obligations include:

  1. Paying Rent on Time: Tenants must pay their rent in full and on time as agreed upon in the lease agreement. Failure to do so can lead to eviction proceedings and possible legal action.
  2. Maintaining the Property: Tenants are responsible for keeping the property clean and in good condition. It includes reporting any maintenance issues to the landlord and avoiding damage to the property.
  3. Adhering to Lease Terms: Tenants must adhere to the terms and conditions outlined in the lease agreement, including rules regarding pets, smoking, and alterations to the property. Failure to comply with these terms can result in eviction or legal action.

Deposits and Rental Increases

  1. Deposits: In South Africa, landlords typically require a deposit equivalent to one or two months’ rent. This deposit is security against any property damage or unpaid rent. Tenants have the right to a written and itemised list of any deductions made from the deposit at the end of the lease term.
  2. Rental Increases: Landlords can increase the rent during the lease term; however, they must provide tenants with written notice at least two months in advance. Rental increases should be fair and in line with market trends.

Evictions and Lease Termination

  1. Evictions: Landlords can only evict tenants with a court order in South Africa. Eviction proceedings can only begin if the tenant has breached the lease agreement, such as failing to pay rent or causing significant damage to the property.
  2. Lease Termination: Tenants can terminate a lease agreement by providing written notice to the landlord. The notice period is typically one month, but it may vary depending on the terms of the lease agreement.


Understanding your rights and obligations as a tenant in South Africa is crucial for a positive renting experience. Familiarising yourself with the law and adhering to the terms of your lease agreement will ensure that you maintain a healthy landlord-tenant relationship. Communication is critical, and addressing any issues or concerns with your landlord will help avoid potential disputes.

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(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)

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