What is the Landlord obligated to repair?
Landlords are responsible for ensuring that the following are kept in repair and proper working order: the structure and exterior of the property, including drains, gutters and external pipes; the installations in the property for the supply of water, gas, electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences) but not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity; and the installation in the property for space heating and heating water. Landlords are not obliged to effect improvements to the property. Nor are they expected to repair any of the items listed above in cases where the Tenant has caused the damage or disrepair. Landlords are furthermore not expected to rebuild or reinstate the property in cases of flooding, fire or other such accident, including the repairing or maintaining of furniture or other such assets belonging to the Tenant.
What is the procedure to be taken when there are repairs to be done?
The Landlord's repairing obligations will only arise when he has received notification of the defect. The Landlord is permitted a reasonable period in order to carry out the repairs. What determines a reasonable period will depend on the nature of the defect as well as the urgency of the defect needing to be repaired. The Landlord is entitled to first inspect the defect and should be provided with a right of access to the property, upon notice of such inspection to the Tenant.
What can the Tenant do if the Landlord does not carry out the necessary repairs?
Where the Landlord has failed to carry out the necessary repairs, the Tenant has the following legal remedies: claim for specific performance; claim for damages; and set-off in certain circumstances. In claims for specific performance, the courts are requested to force the Landlord to carry out his repairing obligations. In claims for damages, the Tenant approaches the courts with a claim against the Landlord for any loss or damage that he has suffered as a result of the defect not being repaired or not being repaired timeously. The Tenant is entitled to a sum that would restore him to the position that he would have been in had there been no breach on the part of the Landlord. In set-off, the Tenant attends to the repairs himself and then sets-off the cost of such repairs from the rent owed to the Landlord. This route should be exercised with caution and legal advice obtained as there are strict circumstances in which this remedy may be utilised.
Who is responsible for repairs as a result of damage caused by the Tenant?
Where the Tenant has caused the damage, the Tenant will be responsible for the repairs, regardless of whether or not it falls under the repairing obligations of the Landlord.
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