I am writing this to all of you to make you as aware as I am now. At the End of January this year my landlord had informed me that he needed to take occupancy of his home back and that I had to move.
So myself and a friend decided let’s get a house together instead of us living in two separate flats. This sounded like a great idea because technically we should save together instead living separately. So we missioned to find a house. We searched all the property places on the net, Property24, Private Property, GumTree, and then the local papers.
I went and saw some very small pokey places claiming one thing in the ad, and wow some owners really have delusions of grandeur when it comes to the price of a property. Mind you it is also the market. So we looked at some really nice houses and some really nasty ones. But there was one house in Vorna Valley that we just fell for. But it wasn’t the house it was the garden we fell for should I say.
It seemed perfect, 4 beds, maid’s quarters (if we ever wanted to get a domestic), lapa, pool, even jungle gyms for all our friends’ children. It was going for R10,500 per month excluding water and lights. We jumped at the house, we signed all the legal documentation, paid the deposit and the rent and the place was ours…
We took occupancy the Saturday the 25th February 2012, giving my old landlord also time to move back into his home. We off loaded the trucks and bakkies and started trying to find each piece of furniture’s new home.
In the first hour we discovered our dream home had plumbing issues, we would flush the toilets and nothing would go down, we would run the tap and water wouldn’t empty out the basin, shower, or bath. So we spoke to the new landlady, informing her of this issue. That night we went to bed and my buddy battled to sleep as she is a light sleeper and there was something in the ceiling. She told me the next morning and I said I heard nothing as I am a very heavy sleeper. Needless to say I went home after work and heard the noises myself; on a closer examination outside I could see rats/ mice tails sticking out of the roof where the tiles and wall meet.
Again we informed the owner, we also then filled out a snag list of all the issues within the house when we took occupancy, we were supposed to get a copy of the owners and previous tenants list but for some reason we never did. Probably because they were not done by them. As you can see by the list we listed many things wrong.
After being promised that these things would be amended we continued to unpack and prepared to live in this house, looking back now I ask myself why? But in that moment we took the landladies words on good faith that she was keen to keep us as her tenants and keep her home in a good order. Boy were we wrong.
The plumbers that came out were not your normal run of the mill plumbing service like Rotor-rooter or something. This was two very old very over weight Afrikaans boys who arrived with a plunger to remove roots from the plumbing and it ended up taking them over 3 hours to this job instead of it taking a max of 30 minutes.
The landladies ex husband/ boyfriend came over to fix the lapa lights and threw rat poison in the ceiling and slowly the rats ate that and started to die… once the silence came so did the smell of rotting rats and mice in our ceiling, Maggots started falling through the light fittings in the lounge and this started happening the day before we opened our home to our friends so they could see our home. Spraying doom frantically to kill the maggots hoping none would fall onto our guests….
Our House warming was the 31st March and the night before Johannesburg and Pretoria had a freak storm and we woke up to 5 cm of water in our house, Ruining the TV cabinet, the power had tripped, and we had no idea the extent to the damage of the electrical appliances yet, we let the Landlady know and she came over to see what she could do. We started mopping up and trying to save what we could of the furniture.
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Her plan was to knock a hole through the wall. Making the water run upstream (which doesn’t normally happen) up the gradient, over the step and down the drive way instead of straight into the lounge. What a joke? Anyways, the only way I proved this theory unsound was with the hose pipe as it never rained again whilst we stayed there to test my theory on its failure. Anyways, just before I forget no, maggots didn’t fall on anyone but did fall on the couch and were noticed.
That night when we tried to put on the lights they didn’t come on, I assumed it was water from the rain or the rats from before. Then we discovered my T.V didn’t work, obviously it didn’t work it got fried between the water and electricity, thankfully I bought an extended warranty with my TV which was two years old. That extended warranty allowed me the privileged of having my TV inspected by the maker to see if it was fixable, to be fixed if fixable, or replaced. The mother board had fried and so on the TV wasn’t fixable. So I had to get replacement T.V.
Then I tried to use my iBurst internet which is another blog all on its own, but it didn’t work due to signal and well I wasn’t and am still not about to purchase some extra booster without knowing and seeing it working, seeing as I bought into their product originally without seeing it or knowing it working and it doesn’t... So from experience I don’t trust them. Anyways... so we noticed there was a Telkom plug in the main room, so we asked the owner was there a phone and would she put the fixture in place and we will pay the rental and the internet we then got to go with the line. She asked us to do all the leg work, do all the research and we did it, hoping that spoon feeding would move it along and basically making it so that she only had to Call Telkom and order the line... But finally when it came down to it, she pleaded poverty, saying she is a single mom, and if we want it so bad we must pay for it and just cancel the line when we leave... This response did not impress us, why would we add features to someone else’s home?
Then my friend plugged her pc in and it too started beeping and wouldn’t work, so she took it to her office and asked the I.T guys there to have a look at it and guess what??? The mother board is fried. So now she has to upgrade and replace the parts damaged by the power surge.
When we again tried to speak to the owner about the issues still un-resolved she gave us an ultimatum, which usually blow up in people’s faces, anyways, our options were foot stoets and or leave, so we gave her our notice for the end of June. We also contacted Alan Levy Attorneys after I did some research online about the new Consumer Protection Act, as well as our normal rights as tenants.
I came across The Estate Agency Affairs Board website, and there they have a page where you can type in the estate agency that did your lease and who we dealt with from them, the agent. Not to my surprise they weren’t registered. So I began the process of asking them to do an investigation. Sending them all the proof and documentation plus we took photographs of the house, and all the other problems us to girls never saw when we looked at the house. Exposed wiring, shoddy roof and wiring work. Quoting the handyman saying,” this house probably isn’t earthed and he doesn’t think it’s safe.” Alan Levy wrote us a letter informing the owner and Rental agent of our notice and that we had the right to take matters up legally and are awaiting our request to proceed.
Again we had to search for a home, trolling the internet websites, seeing lots of houses, and discovered a little treasure closer to what we feel is civilisation after our experience in Midrand. This time we paid more attention to the house, and less to the garden, all we looked at was size for our two puppies.
Since we have moved we have been hassled and had accusations of theft of something we have no clue what they speaking of, I have gladly offered to take a polygraph test at the owners expense to prove our innocence in their so called accusations, as well basically requesting hand outs from us. We have also been informed that the Estate Agency Affairs Board is doing a full investigation into the going on of the rental agency that keeps changing names every time this house has a new tenant.
All I ask of all of you looking at a home. No matter buying or renting, Know a lil about your rights, I know you think you do but really most of us don’t. Do your homework, make sure where you’re moving to allows what you currently have to continue to work or run, i.e. Internet, mobile phone signal and so on. Also really look around before you sign that offer to purchase or that lease. Make sure you have checked inside the ceiling, wiring is a big thing, you don’t unwanted fires, or sorting/ power surging, also view the house more than once. Go as many times as you want. Take pictures. Don’t take a home on face value. You will be sorry.
Go onto the Estate Agency Affairs Board website and check to see if the agent is registered and actually allowed to work. Instead of someone de- frauding you. Also use the internet to Google the agent or agency you’re dealing with. If they legit they have a website, business cards with a registration number on them, There name will come up on property searches, use Facebook to see if you are dealing with someone who says who they say they are.
Good luck, may your home experiences be better than this one.
Property24 has an article on knowing your rights as a tenant, I suggest you read this as well.