What happens if you can't pay your rent during lockdown?

If you are renting a flat or house in South Africa during lockdown, you may have wondered if the amended Disaster Management Act regulations changes your understanding with your landlord – especially if your income has been affected by the pressure on the economy.

Things have been pretty confusing lately, but at Libertine Consultants we go out of our way to make new laws understandable for our clients. Take a look below to learn what the law says about renting during the national state of disaster, and what that actually means in practical terms:

date: 11/01/2021Author:

What does the law say?

The amended regulations issued in terms of section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act dated 29 December 2020 [Regulation 11CA] states that ‘no person may be evicted from their place of residence, regardless of whether it is a formal or informal residence or a farm dwelling for the duration of the lockdown.’ The regulations also go on to state: 37. (1) A person may not be evicted from his or her land or home or have his or her place of residence demolished for the duration of the national state of disaster unless a competent court has granted an order authorising the eviction or demolition. (i) whether the party applying for such an order has taken reasonable steps in good faith, to make alternative arrangements with all affected persons, including but not limited to payment arrangements that would preclude the need for any relocation during the national state of disaster.

But what does that actually mean?

So, those are the laws, but what does that mean in a practical, real, day-to-day sense? Here are a few basic implications that the disaster management laws have for people who rent their living spaces:

Your landlord cannot evict you during lockdown – this includes residences in informal settlements, as well as backyard dwellings.

Your landlord is also not allowed to terminate services without a court order (which they will be unable to get during lockdown).

Lockdown does not automatically mean you will get a ‘rent holiday’. If you should lose your job or have your income reduced due to lockdown measures, you have to enter into a discussion with your landlord to come to an agreement.

They may request proof of your retrenchment and/or reduced income, and you have to give it to them.

If you fail to pay rent during this time, you can still be blacklisted. If your relationship with your landlord goes bad due to continued non-payment, they can still get you blacklisted. However, they will have to follow the breach process either in terms of the Consumer Protection Act, the Rental Housing Act or the lease agreement before reporting the default to the credit bureau.

Your landlord cannot legally use your deposit towards rent at this time without your consent. However, in certain cases this could be a viable solution for both parties if you don’t have another way to pay at least a percentage of your rent per month.

Still have questions?

The laws have many other implications for landlords and the people who rent from them. If you still have questions that have not been answered in this article, we recommend that you get in touch with a member of the Libertine Consultants team. We are experienced in handling these matters and will be able to provide you with good advice. Best of all - if you contact us in January 2021, you can take advantage of a FREE budget analysis, and get 10% off on our credit clearance services. Get in touch today to find out more.

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