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CaseLaw, Attorney
Category: South Africa Law
Satisfied Customers: 1534
Experience:  BCom; LLB; Masters in Law
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I rented a house from someone and gave notice in mid

Customer Question

I rented a house from someone and gave notice in mid november last year. i vacated the house in mid december but the agent was not available to take the keys as per our arrangement. i went overseers for holiday and contacted her a week later to hand the keys. The house was stripped off electrical cables in the period it was vacant. last week I received a letter of demand from the lawyers for R11 200, stating that i have have tampered with the electricity meter. How do I respond to this letter ?
JA: Because real estate law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: Gauteng in South Africa
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: what do you mean? nothing was reported to me, concerning a tampered meter
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: no nothing
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: South Africa Law
Expert:  CaseLaw replied 9 months ago.

Hi there and thank you for your question,

I will try to assist you with your legal question but please feel free to ask as many follow up questions as you like until you are 100% satisfied.

In terms of the Consumer Protection Act, you are entitled to cancel a lease agreement on 20 business days' notice. So it appears that you did this, which means that your termination of the lease agreement was valid. If you then locked up the house and moved out, then you have essentially given up possession of the house back to the owner.

Just because you still have the keys, does NOT mean that you are "in possession" or "in control" of the house.

You've vacated the house, and you've told the owner that you are vacating. It is accordingly the owner's job to secure the house again and take possession.

If the owner refuses to take possession, or neglects to take possession of the house when you move out, he can't hold you liable for damage that occurred to the property after you gave up possession.

My advice is to write back to the lawyer and explain this.

Tell him that it is NOT your fault that the agent was not available on the day you moved out to collect the keys from you. Tell him that you gave up possession, and accordingly assume no liability for the damage.

Also tell him that you never tampered with any meter.

(Please keep in mind that if it can be proved that you didn't lock up properly, then the owner might be able to claim against you -- you needed to have locked up and "secured" the property properly)

If my answer hasn't answered all of your questions, please send me a REPLY with follow up questions so that I can continue to assist you in this same thread for as long as you need. Let me know if you need more advice - dont just rate my answer as "bad".

If my are HAPPY with my answer then please click one of the STAR ratings or the SMILEY FACES to rate my answer!

Good luck and best regards,


Expert:  CaseLaw replied 9 months ago.

Hi there again,

I see that you've read my answer and I hope that you understood the answer and that it was useful? If you have a further question please ask it, or if you need clarity on the answer please let me know.

If you're happy that I've answered your question, please leave positive feedback for me.