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It is important to give proper instructions to the bank and to confirm that these are carried out.
Take the instance of stop orders and debit orders.
It is easy and safe to cancel a stop order because you instruct your bank that you no longer want your bank to make regular payments to a third party.
Cancelling or stopping a debit order can be problematic.
You have to inform the third party, whom you had given permission to take regular payments from your account, not to do so in future.
You have no control over the third party, who may continue to access your account for the fixed or variable amounts previously agreed upon.
You may have to instruct your bank to disallow a debit order to be paid out (a stop payment instruction) and can lodge a complaint with your bank if the third party continues to access your account.
The procedure that banks follow when a client wants to cancel a stop or debit order:
l The customer needs to produce an identity document and the relevant bank card to a teller, who will cancel over the counter at Absa, Capitec and Standard Bank. FNB requires written instruction (filling in a form) and Nedbank does cancellations telephonically or over the counter.
Zoliswa Mjali signed a lease in April 2011 with NP Rodri-guez Estate Agent, who trades as Proprent, from Botanic Gardens Road, Berea.
Through a stop order arrangement with Capitec, Mjali’s rentals were paid into Proprent’s account each month.
Proprent informed Mjali in June 2011 that all future rentals were to be paid directly into the landlord’s account.
Mjali found herself in a quandary when her bank made a payment to Proprent six months after she allegedly cancelled her stop order. As a result of this stop order going through, Mjali was unable to meet her January rental.
Mjali claims she approached Capitec to cancel her monthly stop order to Proprent.
Capitec was unable to locate an instruction, since this is done over the counter and captured on their system immediately in the presence of their client.
How was it possible for only one payment to go through after six months?
Mjali withdrew the rental amount each month from July and made a cash deposit into the landlord’s account.
On the sixth month she did not make the monthly withdrawal. Capitec made the payment to Proprent, since on this occasion there was sufficient cash in Mjali’s account.
Capitec had no record of the cancellation and, after examining Mjali’s bank statements, it was evident that each month the bank reflected insufficient funds for the stop order payment.
Mjali’s monthly withdrawal did not leave sufficient funds for the bank to effect the stop order. This should have alerted Mjali that there was no cancellation in place, something she did not realise or ignored.
Clearly, from the information supplied by the bank and Mjali’s bank statement, she was at fault.
Mjali also needed to get Proprent to refund the R2 850 paid in December 2011.
The agent was not at fault, but Mjali’s version was that her direct attempt and, later, through a representative, Pretty Gumede, yielded no result.
According to Mjali, she approached Proprent on January 9, 2012, to speak to the principal agent, Natalie Padron Rodri-guez, but was told she was unavailable.
Mjali said that she told a staff member about the matter and was assured that the amount would be reversed by the following day.
Three weeks later, not having received a response, she approached the Rental Housing Tribunal, who referred her to Pretty Gumede of the Organisation of Civic Rights.
Gumede said she spoke to Rodriguez on January 31. She indicated that she would verify if a payment was made; if it was, the amount would be handed over to the landlord.
Rodriguez told Gumede that there was no record of Mjali having come to her office on January 9, 2012.
Anxious about paying her January rental, Mjali claims she again visited Rodriguez on February 7, and was told to ask Gumede for help.
After interviewing Mjali and Gumede, repeated attempts were made to get Rod-riguez to comment on the allegations.
Rodriguez finally responded by saying that she could “confirm that the deposit would be refunded today, as proof of payment was sent to us by Pretty Gumede on 13th February, 2012, which is what we had request-ed to facilitate the refund.
“My attorney is away until next week, so we have no further comment on the matter until then.”
Rodriguez refused to provide her attorney’s details and a month later refused to answer why she did not notice the payment into Proprent’s account with the reference number.
There ought to be a simple explanation, but what is clear is that Mjali did not give proper instruction to her bank, nor did she confirm that the instruction was carried out.
The consequence was late payment of her rental.
Fortunately for her, no action was taken by her landlord.
Whatever her version of events, it was also an inconvenience for Rodriguez and Proprent.
l Two weeks ago, this column carried a follow up story about a Senegalese tenant, Ndary Ndiaye, who was unable to take occupation of a flat at John Ross House belonging to Akram Ismail Beemath.
His agent or representative, Ismail Abdul Majid Haffejee, had let the flat to another tenant at the same time in July 2011, and subsequently disappeared.
In response to the article (Out of pocket – and a flat: Tenant still waiting for his deposit after agency folds, Daily News March 6, 2012), Haffejee made a payment of R4 000 and undertook to pay the balance of R2 000.00 at the end of this month.
Dr Sayed Iqbal Mohamed is the chairperson, Organisation of Civic Rights.
For tenant’s rights’ advice, contact Pretty Gumede or Loshni Naidoo at 031 304 6451.