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Understanding Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Tenant or a Landlord

The Tenant – Landlord relationship has long been a source of conflict. It really needn’t be the case, a benefcial and stress free relationship can be maintained if either party is informed and understands their rights and responsibilities.

The Housing and Building Act [Chapter22.07] and the Rent Regulations Statutory Instruments 676 of 1983 and 32 of 2007 Form the basis of tenant – landlord relationship in Zimbabwe, most leases are based on the provisions of these regulations. What follows is an outline of what we, in our experience , feel are the fundamental aspects of this relationship that all parties should always be aware of-:

The Lease Agreement

The most important aspect of the Tenant – Landlord relationship is the Lease Agreement which both parties should take care to familiarise themselves with. This document sets out the expectations of both parties. Furthermore each party has certain rights and responsibilities and it’s important that they know and understand what these are. The lease agreement helps to clarify your rights and responsibilities and provides possible remedies to ensure that everyone is protected and knows what they should and shouldn’t do.Some of the basic features of a Lease Agreement are:

  • Full legal names of the Tenant & Landlord OR their authorised representative
  • Address for and brief description of the property
  • Lease start and end date
  • Rent payable
  • Security deposit payable
  • Break clause – notice to terminate
  • Tenant’s and Landlord’s obligations in respect of repairs and maintenance
  • What happens if either parties defaults on any of the terms and conditions of the lease agreement.
  • Any special conditions like taking care of special equipment

Tenant’s rights

As a tenant you have the right to:

  • be protected from unfair eviction and unfair rental increases
  • have your deposit protected
  • get your deposit back at the end of your tenancy within 15 days of vacating the leased property, as long as you meet your responsibilities as a tenant
  • live in a property that’s in a good state of repair and is safe
  • quiet enjoyment, unless the landlord requests to do an inspection – for which you should receive suffcient notice ahead of the appointment ( usually 24 hours notice should be given, except in emergency)

Tenant’s responsibilities

These include but are limited to:

  • taking care to avoid damaging the property
  • paying the agreed rent on time
  • paying all other bills and charges as specifed in your lease agreement
  • paying for any damage caused by you or your guests
  • providing they give you suffcient notice, allow your landlord access to conduct inspections and to do any necessary maintenance work
  • not sub-letting the property unless your lease agreement says you can
  • reporting any problems with the property (for example mould or broken windows) to your landlord in good time so that they can arrange for these problems to be fxed
  • any other responsibilities that are stated in the lease agreement

Landlord’s rights

As the property owner you have certain rights once a tenant has occupied your property:

  • Select a tenant without engaging in any form of housing discrimination
  • Access to inspect, repair, maintain
  • Get paid rent on time in exchange for the tenant’s use of your property
  • Collect a security deposit
  • Restrict tenant from subletting
  • Have tenant legally evicted if he damages property or violates lease terms like paying rent late.Landlord’s responsibilities
  • Insure the property
  • Maintain the property in accordance with health and building by-laws. It should be clean, safe and habitable.
  • Provide information to tenants about any conditions affecting the property
  • Provide proper receipts and records of transactions pertaining to the tenant
  • Ensuring the property is pest free when the tenant moves in.

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