Installing water tanks can help fight drought

2018-03-28 06:00

Drought is still ravaging through some parts of the Northern Cape, the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape.

This was reiterated during a Just Property press conference held last week.

Homeowners were encouraged to install rainwater tanks and grey-water systems to help them meet water restrictions and to protect themselves against shortages.

Questions have been raised as to whether the tenant or the landlord is responsible for the financing of such installations.

Johan van Bosch, principal estate agent at Just Property, gave a few points of clarity.

“While landlords are required to ensure that their tenant enjoys an uninterrupted water supply, it is the State’s responsibility to ensure a continuous supply of water,” he said.

“If the State is unable to supply water, the landlord cannot be held responsible.

“However, if the lease stipulates that the landlord will ensure a continuous supply of water, he or she will have to look at installing rainwater tanks for their tenants.”

According to Van Bosch, most leases were drawn up prior to the current level of the drought.

It is therefore expected that parties will start inserting clauses in the leases going forward to deal with the water issue.

Another concern is whether or not a tenant can take the tank with them when they move if they paid for its installation.

, if they return the property to its original condition when they go, after paying for it’s installation.

Van Bosch explained that a fixture is deemed a fixture by nature of its installation.

“A rainwater tank is normally placed on a flat surface and the weight of the water acts as an anchor.

“In theory, the tenant should be able to remove the tank once empty. This will, however, require the tenant to remedy the area where the tank was placed and remove all subsequent piping,” he said.

“However, if the piping from the tank is integrated with the existing system to the house, the whole rainwater tank and piping will be deemed a fixture.”

Tenants were therefore advised to obtain permission from their landlord before any installation of this kind is undertaken, so that they can agree as to what will be required upon expiry of the lease.

All agreements should ideally be in writing and possibly made an addendum to the lease.

“That said, no lease can supersede a law or bylaw. When restrictions preclude water usage like backwashing or the filling of a pool or the watering of a garden, a landlord cannot use a dry garden or half-filled pool as a reason to hold back the tenant’s deposit,” Van Bosch said.

“Obviously, in all other areas, tenants and landlords must still look after the property in accordance with their lease agreement.”

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