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WCLawyer
WCLawyer, Attorney
Category: South Africa Law
Satisfied Customers: 14940
Experience:  L.LB (UOVS)
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They recently climbed over the wall at a house we are renting

Resolved Question:

They recently climbed over the wall at a house we are renting in Pretoria, and stole all the copper pipes and connectors hooked onto the geyser (which is outside). There is an electric fence which they just climbed over at the back where they stole these pipes. There is an alarm inside the house which do not pickup movement outside the house where the geyser is situated. We've reported this incident to the police and passed on the reference number to the Agents, but never received the Case Number XXXXX the police arrived only a week later with no luck at all. The question thus is; Who is responsible for the invoice for the replacement of the copper pipes, the owner or the renter?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: South Africa Law
Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.

Good morning Adriaan,

I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today. In order to give you a clear and concise answer, I will need some additional information about the circumstances, please.

1. Were the pipes connected to anything having to do with the geyser, or where they simply being stored on the property, waiting to be used for some purpose?
2. Was this an installation in progress or an existing, functional system that was stolen? If it was an installation in progress, who initially ordered, and was to pay for the materials that were stolen?
3. Is the geyser something that came with the home that you are renting for use associated with the home---for example, as a heating source for the home?

Doug

 

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Doug


 


1. The pipes were connected to the geyser and cut off by the thieves


2. It was a functional system as part of the house


3. It is part of the house part of the rent

Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.

Good morning Adriaan,

Thank you for the additional information.

As the pipes were attached to the property, and legally, part of the property, and because you did not steal them yourself, nor did you negligently allow someone else to steal them, it is the owner of the property that is legally responsible for the cost of repair of the property, and is responsible for the invoi9ces for all the parts and labor necessary to repair the system.

Presumably the landlord has landlord homeowners insurance which will pay for the loss---but whether they do or not, they are entirely responsible for the cost of the repairs---both parts and labor. As a tenant, you have no liability for those expenses.

You may reply back to me using the Reply link and I will be happy to continue to assist you until I am able to address your concerns, to your satisfaction.

Please remember to rate my service to you when our communication is completed.

I wish you the best in 2013,

Doug

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hey Doug


 


We have been maintaining the house as we believe we are responsible renters, my wife and I. The state the house was in when we moved in like toilets cracked and door keys missing were all taken note of and photographed in the beginning. He never showed up for appointments to come and fix or replace and we did this eventually ourselves. We've never held back our rental money or anything and he has just a few seconds ago sent us a letter to give US TWO MONTHS NOTICE to move out if we don't pay.


 


One last question, does these rules also apply in South Africa?


 


 

Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.

I have no idea if the rules apply to SA. You placed the question in the US law category.

I am unable to further assist you in this matter, and I am going to opt out of your question and open this up for other professionals.

Your JustAnswer Account has not been charged for this conversation and your question is being placed back in the question list for other professionals to see, and to respond to. You do not have to stay online for the question to be active. Should another professional pick it up, you should be alerted by email unless you actively disable this feature.

There is no need for you to reply at this time as this may "lock" your question back to me, thus inadvertently delaying other professionals' access to it.

I apologize for any inconvenience and wish you well in your future.



Doug

Expert:  WCLawyer replied 1 year ago.
Good day and thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try and assist you today.

In order to provide you with the most accurate answer, I may have to ask you a lot of questions. This may seem tedious and irrelevant, but trust me, there is a reason for every question. So please be patient throughout the process and if it takes a little long for me to come back to you, it is probably because I am researching your answer. I hope that is okay.

Is the agreement you have with him a fixed term agreement?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi John.


 


Yes it is a twelve month agreement.


We are in month eight.


 


 

Expert:  WCLawyer replied 1 year ago.
Is there anything in your contract that says you would be responsible if something that happened, happened?

Is there anything in your contract that says that either party can terminate the agreement on two months' notice, or any other notice term within the fixed period?

Has the pipes been replaced yet?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Nowhere does it state that i am responsible for theft or unforeseen damage or loss or theft.


 


The notice he served for two months is not my biggest worry, it is the motivation behind it that is unfair, we can find a place if we really have to.


 


The pipes have been replaced a month ago already yes.


 


I understand that it is neither his or my fault they stole the pipes but surely he cannot force me to pay the bill it must be his home owners insurance?


 


 

Expert:  WCLawyer replied 1 year ago.
1. The Law in South Africa is, surprisingly, similar to the position explained by my colleague above. They cannot hold you liable for this theft, unless it was clearly your fault that this theft occurred. For this landlord to get you to pay what he believes is owed to him, he would have to take you to court and I doubt whether he is going to be able to find an attorney who is willing to put his reputation on the stake for something like this, which is clearly baseless in our law. The only other exception is if payment of the pipes if it is stolen was somewhere agreed to by you contractually, which we have already established, it wasn't.

2. What is more is he cannot terminate your rental agreement based on your refusal to pay for the pipes. That would not be a lawful termination and you can inform him as such if you want to remain in the property.

To be more clear: You can decide now whether you are going to accept his cancellation and move out within two months or whether your are not going to accept the cancellation and remain in occupation for the remainder of your contract. Whatever you chose, I suggest that you inform him of your decision in writing, as well as the fact that you contest his allegation that you are responsible for payment of the pipes.

3. Should you chose to stay, he cannot cut off your electricity or change the locks or do anything in that vein to effectively "constructively" evict you. That would be in contravention of the Rental Housing Act and can lead to him getting fines from the Rental Tribunal. The only way to evict you, would be through a court order that you can oppose on the basis that he is not allowed to cancel the agreement, as explained above. There was no breach of the contract from your side, so there is nothing that he can do.

4. I know that this is an unpalatable situation at this stage, but the law is on your side in this instance. Whatever legal action he contemplates, it is extremely unlikely that he would succeed with it. The ball is in his court, so, after sending off the communication to him as explained above, just make sure that you continue to comply with the rental agreement and just wait and see what he does.

I hope this helps you a little bit, but if you have follow up questions before you rate, feel free to ask them at no extra cost. If you are satisfied with the service, kindly rate it positively. I do not get anything unless you rate the service.
WCLawyer, Attorney
Category: South Africa Law
Satisfied Customers: 14940
Experience: L.LB (UOVS)
WCLawyer and other South Africa Law Specialists are ready to help you

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