One of SA’s biggest apartment developers has just set up a subsidiary company that will acquire and rent out many of the units it is building, and if more follow suit there is a possibility that whole blocks of flats will once again be owned and run by single corporate owners – a very rare occurrence since the introduction of Sectional Title back in the 1970s.
For the time being, however, most tenants in ST apartment blocks or townhouse complexes will still have to deal with the individual owners of specific units (or their letting agents), which means that the terms of their leases will continue to vary from owner to owner and complex to complex, says Tobie Fourie, national rentals manager of the Chas Everitt International property group.
“And this lack of standardisation can be very confusing, so tenants do need to be absolutely clear about who is responsible for what, and what their rent actually covers, before they sign any lease agreement.”
For example, he says, they need to check what the situation is as regards maintenance and repairs. “In ST schemes, the legal position is that the individual unit owner – the landlord - is responsible for the upkeep of the interior of the unit, and the rent being charged should allow for this.
“However, the lease agreement might pass on the responsibility for some maintenance and minor repairs on to the tenant in return for a reduced rental, and in that case the agreement must also spell out specifically what tenants will be expected to do.”