Good evening members of the forum
I found Theforumsa in a search for help so this is my first post and hope that some members might be able to offer me some advice on what to do about corrupt rental agents I am dealing with at the moment.
I am a single mom and my 5 year old daughter and I live with my mom. Last month the 22nd May the foundation of our house sunk and we had to find accommodation while builders carry out repairs to the foundation. A hotel would have been just to expensive for me to afford so I looked around and found a furnished two bedroom flat to rent from a holiday accommodation agency.
I contacted them, viewed the flat and informed the agent that I would need to rent it for one and a half to two months whilst the repairs are carried out on my mothers home. She was agreeable to that and we went down to her offices to draw up the lease agreement. Rental would be R7500 per month, R500 lease fee and one and a half months deposit = R19 250. I made an eft payment on the spot as it was late afternoon and needed to get my mom and daughter to safe accommodation. Agent said to give her an hour to draw up lease and I should call back around 6pm as she was working late.
I arrived back at the agents office at 6pm only to find that eskom was busy with load shedding and offices were in darkness. Agent was sitting in the dark with just the light of her cell phone. As it was dark and we all just wanted to wrap things up I signed the lease. received the keys and headed off to the rental accommodation. (yes I know I shouldn't have signed the lease before reading over it completely).
The following evening after coming from work I made an inventory of defects in the flat and next morning contacted the agency to ask if the agent could go through the inventory of defects with me. I was told the agent I dealt with had just gone on leave and would only be back at work mid July but not to worry about the inventory.
I asked for a copy of the lease I had signed and a receipt from the deposit and rental I had paid but was told they don't know what the agent had done with it and would have to wait for her to return from her leave.
One month later, 23rd June, knowing I have being living in the flat for one month I called the agency to ask when my second month rental is due as still I havent received a rental invoice for 1st month and now for second month. I was told that they had found the lease and would email it to me and which they did. However I still do not know when my second month rental is due and do not want to pay it late, further that my moms home foundation is near to completion and I would like to give notice to move out the rental flat.
The agent told me that according to the lease if I want to cancel I would have to pay R1500 cancellation fee as well as R15 000 extra rental as well as R4500 agent commission. When I questioned the amounts the agent told me please lady just read the lease we emailed to you just now.
I downloaded the lease from my email and saw that these agents had signed me up for 3 months , (90 days) lease, yet I had specifically told the original agent I would only need the flat for one and a half to two months. I called the agency and the rude agent told me, "lady you signed for 3 months so you will have to pay for 3 months or pay the penalties.
I am now truely in a state and at this stage just can't afford an attorney to take on these under handed corrupt agents. I have used google and downloaded and read the consumer protection act and rental housing act and can't really understand it other than I have the right to cancel the rental contract with 20 days written notice. I have no problem with having to do so but find it extremely unfair that these agents want to charge me such heavy penalties.
I have so many questions and I hope some members would maybe step forward and answer them for me and offer some advice:
1. I never received a copy of the lease until one month later after demanding a copy and notice it is only signed by me so how legal and binding is it?
2. Are these agents legally allowed to charge me R1500 cancellation fee, R15 000 lost rental fee and R4 500 agent commission fee?
3. Is the lease not void as it is not signed by the agency?
4. The agency has not conducted an inventory defects inspection despite my request so what do I do about it?
5. I at no time agreed to a lease of 3 months, or as they put it 90days, but did agree to one and a half to two months which would be 45 to 60 days so wwhat can I do about that?
6. The lease states 3 months yet their invoice states 90 days at R250 per day so am I bound to that time period?
7. The agency has billed me for a full 90 days on their invoice which they sent yesterday yet still have not subtracted the deposit and 1st month rental I have paid them and cant produce a receipt for me for the amounts already paid. What are my options?
8. They can't tell me when my next rental payment is due so what do I do about it?
I would so grateful if the members would take the time to read over the lease I have attached hereto and kindly give me some advice on what my rights are and steps I should take next.
Thanks you so much to all and anyone who steps forward with some answers for me.