Lease Agreements


In the excitement of concluding a new lease agreement the parties often forget to finalize the important formalities. They start off on a good footing and just want to get the deal done. The landlord is eager to fill the vacant property. The tenant is eager to move in. But in the rush to get things done they overlook the fine print. A classic example of such a situation is the following:

The landlord owns a 3 bedroom townhouse which can be occupied by a family of four. It is available to rent for 12 months from 1 June 2020 to 31 May 2021. The landlord places an advertisement on the internet on the 1st of May 2020. It immediately attracts a lot of attention. On the 15th of May 2020
Mr X sees the advertisement on a well-known property website. He contacts the landlord and they meet at the property on the 17th of May 2020.

After the landlord and Mr X walked through the property Mr X says that he wants to move in “as soon as possible”. The landlord is ecstatic – he and Mr X had “clicked” right from the start and he found a good tenant without much hassle. Before they leave the landlord mentions that he will “e-mail the lease”.
Mr X agrees and says that he will sign the lease and e-mail it to the landlord. Mr X then asks if he can get the keys by the 20th of May “in order to start moving in”. The landlord happily agrees and they arrange for Mr X to collect the keys from the landlord’s house the following day.

On the 1st of December 2020 the landlord consults with his attorney. He is despondent and describes the events that took place since his first meeting with Mr X. In spite of many requests he never received the signed lease back from Mr X. The deposit mentioned in the lease was not paid. Mr X is 4 months behind with his rental payments and has never paid for water and electricity. Mr X has also allowed a distant family member to move into the property. Mr X now disputes that the “e-mailed lease” is the true lease agreement between the parties. According to him the lease was “verbal” and was concluded the day he and the landlord met for the first time. Mr X also alleges that his “Whats Up conversations” with the landlord contain further terms of the lease.

The crux of the matter is that the landlord made crucial mistakes right from the start. One such mistake was that a written lease agreement, containing all the relevant terms and conditions, was not concluded
before the tenant moved into the property. It is therefore crucial that a landlord first contact an attorney before entering into an important transaction such as the rental of his property.

Hennie van der Walt Attorneys can assist with negotiating and drafting of lease agreements. Contact us on or via our Facebook Page. Alternatively go to our website at to make an appointment.

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