what a landlord cannot do south africa


A landlord in South Africa must adhere to certain regulations and laws to ensure a fair and lawful relationship with their tenants. There are specific actions that a landlord cannot take, as outlined in the Rental Housing Act and other related laws. This article provides an overview of what a landlord cannot do in South Africa, highlighting the tenant’s rights and protection against unfair practices.

1. Discrimination

A landlord cannot discriminate against potential tenants based on their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or any other protected characteristics. It is illegal to deny someone the opportunity to rent a property based on these factors.

2. Arbitrary Evictions

what a landlord cannot do south africa

Landlords must follow the proper legal procedures when evicting a tenant. They cannot forcefully remove a tenant from the property without a court order. Evictions should be based on valid reasons such as non-payment of rent or breach of lease terms.

3. Unreasonable Rent Increases

A landlord must keep rental increases within reasonable limits. They cannot impose exorbitant or unfair rent hikes without a valid reason. Rent increases should be in line with market trends and communicated to the tenant within a reasonable notice period.

4. Invasion of Privacy

A landlord cannot invade a tenant’s privacy without consent or a legitimate reason. They cannot enter the rented property without proper notice, except in cases of emergency. The tenant has the right to enjoy their rented space without unnecessary intrusions.

5. Negligence in Maintenance

Landlords have a responsibility to keep the rental property in a habitable and safe condition. They cannot neglect maintenance duties, such as repairing structural damage, fixing plumbing issues, or addressing electrical faults. Failure to maintain the property can result in legal consequences.

6. Retaliation

If a tenant exercises their rights, such as reporting maintenance issues or filing complaints, the landlord cannot retaliate against them. Retaliatory actions, such as increasing rent, reducing services, or attempting to evict the tenant, are prohibited.

7. Unlawful Deductions from the Deposit

When a tenancy agreement ends, a landlord can only deduct legitimate costs from the tenant’s deposit, such as unpaid rent or damage beyond normal wear and tear. They cannot make arbitrary deductions or withhold the deposit without valid reasons or due process.

8. Harassment or Intimidation

A landlord cannot harass or intimidate a tenant. They should not use aggressive or threatening behavior towards the tenant or their guests. Tenants have the right to enjoy their rented property without fear or undue harassment.

9. Unfair Rental Agreements

Landlords cannot include unfair or unlawful clauses in rental agreements. They must abide by the Rental Housing Act and other relevant legislation. Any terms that attempt to bypass or undermine the tenant’s rights are considered invalid and unenforceable.

10. Lack of Proper Documentation

Lastly, a landlord must provide the tenant with a written lease agreement that clearly outlines the terms and conditions of the tenancy. Failing to provide a proper written agreement can lead to legal complications and challenges in enforcing rights and obligations.


It is essential for landlords in South Africa to understand the rights and protections afforded to tenants. By adhering to the laws and regulations, landlords can ensure a fair, respectful, and mutually beneficial relationship with their tenants, creating a harmonious rental experience for both parties.

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