Written for YourProperty

This week the Property Poser expert examines a difficult relationship between a landlord and his underperforming rental agent.

The reader explains that he engaged a rental agent in the last year or two to see to the rental of his residential property. He says the two of them agreed that the agent would see to the sourcing and vetting of prospective tenants.

After placing a tenant, the agent would then regularly inspect the premises and ensure that the rental was paid on time. For this he would receive a percentage of the monthly rental paid by the tenant.

The agent duly sourced a tenant but it would appear that he did not properly vet this tenant, who proved to be less than desirable. The rental was usually paid late or in bits and pieces and, when the tenant finally moved out, the dwelling was left in a mess.

The agent then failed to properly inspect the dwelling at that stage and the deposit was refunded without deduction for repairs.

It was during this time that the landlord started asking the agent for more detailed feedback as to what exactly it was that he was doing to earn his commission.

When no satisfactory feedback was received, the reader sought answers from those in authority over the agent. They undertook to investigate and revert and found that they too were unable to obtain answers.

That same agent then placed another tenant in the dwelling – in the state in which it was left. Again, it transpired that the tenant was not ideal as the rental was paid late, if at all, and the reader’s frustration grew.

Still no answers as to the conduct of the agent have been forthcoming from any of the persons he was dealing with.

The reader advises that he has no written contract with the agent and that they discussed the terms of the agreement as to duties and commission but little more than that.

Sean Radue of Radue Attorneys in Port Elizabeth says it is vitally important to specify the terms and conditions to be considered when tasking an agent with a rental mandate.

“It is useful to specify the term of the agreement, the obligations of the agent throughout the agreement, the payment of commission, what happens in the event of a breach and so on.”

While the reader appears to have addressed some of these aspects, the lack of a written agreement merely serves to make the proof thereof so much more difficult, says Radue.

“Before one can even seek to enforce such an agreement, its terms must be proved.”

Of course, it could be argued that, by the agent accepting the monthly commission on rental, certain obligations were accepted, he says.

“The agent could be put to the proof that he carried out his duties in a manner expected of a person generally rendering such services.”

Radue says the reader would like to know where to turn next as it seems that even the agent’s employers have no authority over him.

“Taking formal legal steps may be a fairly costly and lengthy process but the merits of such an exercise could be explored.”

Another, and potentially more accessible route to consider, is to engage with the Estate Agency Affairs Board, he says.

“The complaint can be put to them for investigation and possible disciplinary steps.”

To ask a property related question, visit www.yourproperty.co.za.

Issued by:

Coetzee Gouws
082 575 7991
041 368 4992

On behalf of:

Radue Attorneys