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Welcome to Scorpion’s Legal Tips! Every week we’ll share stories of injustice and show you how you can strike back legally.
Sethu* is sick and tired of his landlord not fixing the broken plumbing system and having a bad smell in his house because of it. He’s asked the landlord nicely, but every time he asks, the landlord just says he "doesn’t have money for that now" and does nothing about it. What are the landlord’s and tenant’s rights and responsibilities here? Scorpion Legal Protection explains.
It is the landlord’s responsibility to keep the property in a condition that is "reasonably fit for the purpose for which it is to be let". This means that the home must be kept in good repair so that the tenant is actually able to use it. In this case, a blocked toilet or faulty plumbing system falls under the obligations of the landlord to fix.
Generally, maintaining functioning plumbing would be the responsibility of the landlord to fix, but it depends on how the plumbing got blocked – as will be the case for most issues where landlords and tenants need to decide who is responsible to pay for repairs. If the plumbing started acting up due to no fault of Sethu’s or because it is old and hasn’t been properly maintained by the landlord, then it would be the landlord’s problem to fix. But if Sethu or anyone who visited Sethu blocked the drain by stuffing things down the sink or toilet that shouldn’t go down there, then this could be seen as negligence on their part, and Sethu, as the renter, may be responsible for paying for repairs.
Step one is to notify the landlord in writing of the repairs that need to be carried out. Talking to the landlord about it is not good enough, make sure you have it in writing. If the landlord does not respond, or fails to do the repairs, you can take one of two routes:
Please note, you cannot just withhold your rent.
You may also be interested in:
3 things to check before signing: lease agreement
Becoming legal owner of land/property
4 hidden costs in your rental agreement
We have a team of lawyers available to answer your legal questions every first Thursday of the month from 11:30 to 13:30 on the Scorpion Legal Protection Facebook page for free. Have your legal question answered on the spot at the Scorpion Live Q&A.
* This is only basic legal advice and cannot be relied on solely. The information is correct at the time of being sent to publishing. Cases are based on fictional characters unless otherwise indicated.
Date added: 15 August 2022
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