HomeStandard Style‘Check on your leased properties’

‘Check on your leased properties’

I must apologise for the poor quality of the pictures on the bathroom make over last week, but everyone who has seen the transformation has been astounded at the difference made by changing the colours in that bathroom, having all the major fixtures in one colour, and matching the floor and wall tiles.

Home and Garden with Helen Devmac

I have also received enquiries from readers who would like to do make-overs.

This is most exciting, all we would want from any one interested in a make-over, are “before” pictures and your thoughts on what you would like to see, we will walk you through your wish list, seeing just what is feasible, and how you can improve your home without breaking the bank. So do keep those enquiries going, and give us a story we can share with other readers. And remember this is an advisory service only.

The state in which that property and bathroom were, brings to mind quite another topic, leased properties! If you will recall, this was a rented property which had been allowed to sink into a state of disrepair.

I felt that a lot of the work which had to be undertaken in order to restore this property to a reasonable condition may well have not been necessary had the tenant at least looked after the property, cleaned the tub, toilet and tiles regularly.

The rest of the property was in an equally deplorable state, and water and electricity bills had not been paid for at least six months prior to the termination of the lease, and the security response alarm electric parameter fence and borehole were no longer in working order.

When the landlord, in despair, tried to put the property up for sale, she was shocked to learn that the value of that property had depreciated by between 40% to 50% of the value of similar properties in the area. And, the tenant was first in making an offer!

The property is in a fairly up market suburb of Harare and at the commencement of the lease in 2006, was in a reasonable condition. As a deceased estate, the owners who reside in the diaspora made the decision to lease the property while the estate was being wound up.

Throughout this period the tenancy did not change hands. So what went wrong? I believe the major problem here was that the landlord was not able to inspect her property as often as she should have, as long as she received timeous remittance of the rentals it was assumed that all was in order.

Indeed what can landlords do to ensure that their properties are well looked after by tenants, and what is more important, timeous remittal of rent or a tenant who takes good care of a property?

Prospective tenants must be vetted

Let us take a brief look at the rights and duties of landlords vis a vis their tenants:

Before a lease is entered into the landlord must properly vet the prospective tenant and assess the tenant’s ability to meet the rent, where possible ask for traceable references and proof of employment.

Once the tenant has met the deposit requirement and paid rent for the first month, the tenant has the right of occupancy.

Before the tenant moves in, it is the landlord’s responsibility to inspect the premises with the tenant and ensure that the property is clean and in a satisfactory state of repair, any painting or work needed to be done must be agreed to then, and it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that all utility bills are taken care of and there are no balances being carried over.

It is normal to have all utility bills transferred into the tenants name for the duration of his occupancy of the property. Thereafter what are the rights of the landlord:
To ensure that the deposit paid by the tenant is held in a safe high interest yielding facility, this will be needed to meet the cost of repairs at the termination of the lease.

To receive rentals as agreed.

The landlord has the right to inspect the leased property during the tenure of the lease.

Has the right to send contractors to make improvements to his property.
Apart from this, the landlord may insist that his gardener remain on the property for the purpose of maintaining the garden and pool.

Duties of the tenant
Timeous payment of the rent and to service all utility bills relating to his own use of these facilities.

Responsible for damage caused to the property , apart from that relating to the normal wear and tear and “Acts of God”.

Contact the landlord as soon as possible, when the need for repairs arises, and to allow access to contractors or service and repair workmen.

For example had the toilets at this property been attended to early, the need for replacement may not have arisen.
The tenant and his family should have undisturbed use of the property and should conduct themselves in a manner that does not disturb neighbours.

And most important of all, the tenant must maintain the property in an acceptable state of cleanliness and hygiene for the duration of the lease, and must restore the property to its original state upon termination of the lease.

In this particular situation, windows were broken, light fittings and door handles had been removed, carpets had burn marks from ironing. So although the landlord’s rent was paid timeoulsy, the property was in a shocking state.

Property is a valuable asset, and getting the wrong tenant is an experience no landlord should suffer.

I must add too, that there is more value in a tenant who looks after your property , even where such a tenant may not meet rentals as timeously as you would like.

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