Tenants must move out on the date specified or they could become liable

When tenants give notice that they are terminating their lease, they should keep in mind the date that they have agreed to vacate the property, because if they don’t move out on the agreed date they could become liable for the rent for that month, warns Gail Cawood, letting manager for Knight Frank Residential SA.

Lease agreements usually have a clause that would cover the notice period needed by the landlord or tenant to continue with the lease and in the Knight Frank agreement this is 40 to 80 working days before the end of the lease period. If the lease ends and the tenant has not given a specific date, it is taken that the lease continues on a month to month basis (unless the tenant specifically asks that this not be the case or he enters into a new lease for another fixed period).

If the tenant does not move out on the agreed date, the landlord can ask for the full month’s rental, said Cawood, according to previous case law (Scopeful130 (Pty) Ltd v Mechani Mag (Pty) Ltd.

Even in a case where a full month’s notice is given and the tenant moves out on the first or second day of the following month, the landlord can still ask for that month’s rent in full.

On the other hand, she said, if the tenant chooses to cancel his lease early, he must remember that 20 business days’ notice is needed and he is obliged to help the landlord find another tenant. In cases such as these, one month’s rent is the usual penalty amount asked for by Knight Frank, although the Consumer Protection Act is a little ambiguous in saying a “reasonable” penalty is charged.

If a tenant chooses to move out before the date he has given to the landlord in the month that he has agreed to move, he forfeits the rent paid and is not entitled to a refund from the landlord, said Cawood.

“Most landlords are understanding in giving tenants leeway but as this is often a chain of events happening, i.e. another tenant moving in on the following day and he has to vacate his premises for another, etc, it can often mess things up horribly for all concerned if the tenant does not move out on the date he says he will be doing so,” she said. “In addition to the added inconvenience, there are often cleaners, gardeners, or the like that will have to be rescheduled as well all the actual moving in and out inspections of the property.”

Article By: www.knightfrank.co.za/

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