Homes

Safeguard your deposit, leave your rental in a clean state

Whether you are renting a flat or a house, you should leave it in a good state to safeguard your deposit, according to the Seeff Property Group.

It is common practice for tenants to pay a rental deposit which the landlord must invest in an interest bearing account for the benefit of the tenant. At the end of the lease, the landlord can, however, make certain deductions from the deposit to repair and reinstate the property to its original condition.

Tenants usually bank on getting their deposit back at the end of the rental. It is, however, common to find that tenants vacate a property and leave it in a messy state where it needs repairs, repainting and cleaning. Worse, they may sometimes leave full rubbish bins and even leave some of their unwanted stuff behind.

Needless to say, this is totally unacceptable, and the tenant unfortunately risks the possibility that the landlord will need to spend money on the property to make it fit for a new tenant. The tenant also risks not getting a good reference from the landlord which is important as most landlords require a reference check on top of the standard credit and affordability checks.

Although “fair wear and tear” is acceptable, any additional damage could put the deposit at risk, according to PG van der Linde, rental manager for Seeff Pretoria East. Aside from any potential rental arrears, the landlord can also deduct the cost of repairs. If there are maintenance issues during the lease period, the tenants must raise this with the landlord. They cannot wait until the lease expires.

It is a legal requirement that a condition of property report be done when the tenant takes occupation. This document should record the full state of the property and highlight any defects and must be signed by both parties. The document then forms the basis for an outgoing inspection to identify things that need to be fixed or cleaned.

Seeff says tenants must ensure the property is cleaned and restored by the last day of their lease, and at least by the latest at midday on the day when the new lease expires. It is therefore advisable to start preparing at least a week before you move out.

The entire property must be thoroughly cleaned. That includes the walls, light fittings, cupboards (inside and outside), kitchen including the stove and oven, appliances and cabinets. Remove anything that you affixed to the walls, plug the holes and paint where necessary. Walls which do not require painting should be washed.

Windows must be cleaned. If there are blinds, these must be in full working order and cleaned. Curtains, if any, must be dry cleaned. Floors must be steam cleaned, including any carpeted areas.

Any broken or loose cupboard hinges and handles should be repaired or replaced. All electrical appliances, plugs and lights must be in a full working order. All the lightbulbs must be working. Any dripping taps should be fixed. There should be no blocked drains.

If the property is furnished, all furniture should also be cleaned, and mattresses and couches steam cleaned. The swimming pool, if there is one, should be clean and in full working order, including the pump and creepy. If you kept pets, any pet smells must be cleared out and anything dirtied or damaged must be repaired.

Garages should also be cleared and cleaned. The garden should be trimmed and tidy. All refuse should be removed so that a clean bin is left for the new tenant.

A final inspection must be done and signed by both parties. A full set of keys and remotes must be handed over when you vacate the property.

If there are any repairs that need to be done, the landlord must provide proof of these. The deposit (net of any repair costs) must be refunded to the tenant within 14 days. Disputes can be lodged with the Rental Housing Tribunal.

 

Writer: Gina Meintjes

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