What are your rights as a tenant when your landlord sells their property?

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What are your rights as a tenant when your landlord sells their property?

16 February 2021 | Insights Team

The South African rental market is a vibrant one; filled with many people who have consciously chosen renting as a lifestyle option. However, many tenants lack the legal know-how when it comes to their rights if the landlord chooses to sell the property they occupy. As it turns out, due to the financial strain brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, incidences of landlords cashing in on their rental properties have been on the rise in South Africa lately.

While tenants may worry and feel as if they are being kicked out onto the street, they should realise that they have inalienable rights. As a tenant, here’s what you need to know regarding your rights if your landlord plans to sell the property you are renting:

What the law says 

Under South African law, while a landlord is entitled to sell their property when they want, that sale does not automatically nullify the rights and obligations of a tenant. Essentially, a lease agreement remains valid even if the property you are residing in and paying monthly rent for is sold. There are laws and processes in place designed to treat all parties as fairly as possible; the landlord must give at least 20 days’ notice of their intention to sell the property or as much notice as agreed to in the signed lease. 

So, when do you need to vacate the property?

As a tenant, you are only required to leave the property once your lease agreement expires and the purchaser may only take occupancy once you have moved out. As such, you must look closely at the details of a lease agreement (and, perhaps, even consult a lawyer) to determine the duration you will be entitled to occupy the property as a tenant, before deciding whether you want to sign a lease agreement. 

Are there any circumstances where this isn’t the case? 

Distressed sales, where banks and sheriffs are involved, complicate matters a bit further. For example, if a bank holds the bond to a house and places it on auction, or the bond had been registered before the conclusion of the lease, then the sheriff and the bank can, and must, still try to sell the property subject to the lease. 

Can you, as a tenant, refuse to move?

As long as the landlord has followed all the necessary laws outlined in this article, and fulfilled all the terms of the lease agreement, then you, as a tenant, are legally obliged to move. Should you not move by the date on which you must vacate, then the new owner may take legal action to have you removed. 

Leadhome will provide you with essential advice to ensure that your rights are protected and defined in your lease agreement. Contact Leadhome Rentals today to learn more about the many options available, as well as living in your dream area.

Insights Team

We're the "thinking arm" of Leadhome, combining expertise in data analysis, modelling, sociology, geography, and philosophy to interrogate current trends in the South African residential property market. Proudly contemplative since 2015.