Written for YourProperty

This week the Property Poser experts assist a reader who has been given notice to vacate her rented garden cottage, as her landlord wants to make large-scale alterations.

The reader says she has been renting for a number of years without a formal or written lease agreement between the two parties.

The notice was given on the seventh day of the month. Despite mentioning that it was for “a month”, the reader has not specified whether it was intended to expire at the end of the month in which it was given or on the seventh day of the subsequent month.

In a rental scenario, the parties typically agree on a lease period, says Susan Chapman from Rawson Properties Port Elizabeth Platinum.

“This is usually confirmed by the parties in writing and in a lease agreement.”

Chapman says such an agreement would also cover aspects such as renewal of the lease period and the like.

“Of course, the parties could also agree to address the lease period on a month-to-month basis.”

This arrangement could also have arisen following the expiration of an agreed period, says Chapman.

“Either way, this appears to be the situation our reader found herself in before the notice to vacate was given.”

Where the lease runs from month to month, Chapman says it is generally accepted that the notice period is commensurate with the lease period.

“In this instance, the lease runs from one month to the next, so notice should also be given so as to coincide with and terminate over the same period.”

It would be unusual for the lease period to run from the seventh of one month to the seventh of the next, but this would not be legally problematic, says Stiaan Jonker of Smith Tabata Attorneys in PE.

If this was the case here, the notice to vacate was given correctly. If not, then it would be considered as premature notice to vacate by the last day of the following month, thus allowing for a full calendar month’s notice, says Jonker.

“This is the danger of an open-ended rental period. The tenant runs the risk of being forced to leave before he or she is ready to do so.”

On the plus side, says Jonker, should the tenant wish to leave, he or she merely has to give the landlord a calendar month’s notice.

“If our reader needs more time to find a new residence, she could try to negotiate a longer notice period.”

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