Before or upon entering into a lease:
- Be sure to read the lease carefully so you understand what you are agreeing to.
- Take photos before you move in to show the condition of the unit and take an inventory.
- Always take and/or issue receipts upon payment of rental;
- Try to develop open communication with your landlord and/or tenant and report any repairs that are needed as quickly as possible.
Once entered into a tenancy:
- One of the tenant’s rights is to a habitable residence. This means that the home must be safe to live in, without dangerous conditions and must have access to utilities and water. The landlord is required to make any necessary repairs to keep the premises in reasonable condition while the tenant lives there.
- An important component of a tenant’s legal rights is the right to privacy
and the landlord cannot come into the home without notice.
A landlord cannot cut off the water and electricity supply neither can he change the locks to the premises whilst the tenant remains lawfully in the premises;
The Control of rent and tenancy Act law allows the landlord to evict the tenant if there is a breach of the lease (broken promise made in the lease), including if the tenant fail to pay the rent. If the tenant refuses to vacate then the landlord must file an application for eviction before the Rent Board. The tenant must receive notice of this and have a chance to appear in court. The tenant will have the chance to file an answer with the court and present their side of the story.
The Rent Board:
The Rent Board handles disputes in respect of a house or part of house let out as a separate dwelling, any business premises.
Disputes which fall under the jurisdiction of the Board include disputes over rental (including non-payment or applications to fix, reduce or increase rent) and breaches of conditions of lease agreements.
No landlord shall remove a tenant or take any steps to remove a tenant without an order of eviction being granted by the Board. The grounds on which eviction may be ordered are:
- a) Rent lawfully due remains unpaid or there occurs a breach of a condition of the lease;
- b) The tenant is found guilty of nuisance or annoyance to adjoining
neighbors or has been convicted of using the premises for illegal purposes;
- c) The tenant has been given notice to vacate and the landlord has contracted to sell or let the property or has taken steps which would prejudice him if he were not to regain possession;
- d) The tenant has without authorization sublet;
- e) The premises is overcrowded and dangerous to occupants;
- f) The premises is reasonably required by the landlord for occupation of an employee;
- g) The premises is required by the landlord for his own use or for that of his family members or co-owners;
- h) The landlord is a statutory authority and it requires the premises
for their execution of its duties;
- i) The premises is to be demolished, reconstructed, moved or improved; or
- j) The premises is so dilapidated that repairs are required to render
the premises in a tenant-able condition and cannot be undertaken without the tenant vacating the house.
The Board in granting an order of ejectment may fix such time limit within which the lessee shall vacate the dwelling house, as appears to the Board to be reasonable in the circumstances. The Board may also make an order as to the payment of arrears of rent or rent as may seem just.
Any person so summoned shall be bound to obey the summons served upon him. If a lessor or lessee fails without reasonable excuse to attend after being so summoned the Board may if the party failing to attend is the applicant, take no further action on the application. IF the party failing to attend is the respondent, decide the issue in his absence.
Any person who refuses or fails, without sufficient cause, to comply with such summons, shall be guilty of and offence and liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding one thousand rupees and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months.
Any person aggrieved by any decision or order of the Board may appeal to the Supreme Court on a question of law or of fact or of mixed law and fact within 14 days of the delivery of a decision.