Rights Of Both Parties In A Tenancy Agreement
A tenancy agreement is an agreement entered between the owner of a property (the landlord) and an individual/ company (the tenant) where the landlord agrees to rent out the property to the tenant for a sum of money. During the tenancy period, what are the rights accorded to both parties? In this article, we will briefly discuss just that.
Right to Safe Occupation
A tenant can expect that the property that he is renting is reasonably safe for use for the purpose stated in the tenancy agreement i.e. to stay in. In this regard, the landlord who has control over the property must take reasonable steps to ensure that the property is fit for the purpose stated in the tenancy agreement and that the tenant does not suffer injury as a result of using the property according to the purposes stated in the tenancy agreement, such as repairing the property, making alteration to replace the wear and tears in the property and maintaining the property to ensure that it is fit for use for the current and future tenant.
This does not mean that the landlord is liable for all defects/ maintenance/ repairs in the property. The law dictates that the landlord is only responsible for the defects that can be reasonably discovered.
The most common issue that a landlord face is the refusal of the tenant to pay rent. What can a landlord do in such a situation?
Right to Seize and Sell Tenant’s Property
If a tenant refuses to pay rent according to what was stipulated in the tenancy agreement, the landlord in this situation can apply for a distress action. Legally speaking, a distress action is a form of remedy for the non-payment of rent, where the property of the tenant can be seized to satisfy the rent that is due to the landlord.
The landlord or his agent must prepare and apply the necessary legal documents to a judge or registrar before the tenant’s property can be seized by the bailiff and sold to satisfy the rent that is due.
Right to Re-Possession
Alternatively, a landlord can also evict the tenant.
Eviction is a process whereby a landlord enters their property and repossesses it from the hands of the tenant. However, a landlord cannot just waltz into his property and repossess it without a proper court order.
In order to evict a tenant legally, the landlord must terminate the agreement and prepare the necessary legal documents to the court. If the court is satisfied with the application, a court order will be granted whereby a landlord is allowed to enter and repossess his property.
In the process of evicting the tenant/ repossessing the property, the landlord can also claim for double rent from the tenant from the expiry of notice of tenancy until the landlord successfully repossesses the property.
The principle of occupiers liability protects the tenant regardless of whether there is a clause in the tenancy agreement specifying that the landlord has a duty to ensure that the safety of the tenant. However, the right to evict the tenant or seizing and selling the tenant’s property is not an automatic right. The landlord must obtain the necessary legal papers before commencing eviction or seizing and selling the tenant’s property.
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