Watch your tenants!

You have an investment property that you decide to rent out. After all, what better way to acquire an asset than to have someone else pay for it? But landlords, take heed: It takes just one tenant getting involved in illegal activities to result in your investment property being forfeited to the State!

Consider this court case: a landlord leased his farm to tenants, then went about his life oblivious to the fact that his tenants were using the property in order to manufacture illegal drugs. In terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, the farm was declared forfeited to the State, given that it was being put to illegal use. And this despite the fact that the owner was not in any way party to or aware of the illegal operations that were being conducted on his property.

lease agreements and documents

Leases and the Renewal Negotiation

Lease Agreements generally follow a time-and-tested approach. Tenant likes the property; a Lease Agreement is signed; Tenant moves in; Tenant pays their rent each month. At the end of the fixed period, Tenant elects to either renew the lease, or continue on a month-to-month. Or terminate and move out. Most people are familiar with this approach. But what happens if renewal is not a choice given to the Tenant, but rather the subject of negotiation with the landlord?

AGREEMENTS ONLINE Interpreting the Disciplinary blog

Interpreting the Disciplinary

South Africa is a beautifully multi-coloured, multi-cultural, multi-lingual country, comprising of people hailing from all walks of life. We certainly are a Rainbow Nation in every sense. It’s one thing to acknowledge and celebrate our eclectic melting pot. But in some cases that’s not enough. Where appropriate, and particularly in situations where justice demands it, other people’s cultural differences require more than just lip-service. One such example is in the employment relationship.

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The Right to an Interpreter during a Disciplinary Hearing

I’m going to hold a disciplinary hearing to hopefully dismiss a staff member. She is demanding that I provide a Xhosa interpreter for her during the hearing. Is this really necessary? Sure, her English isn’t great but she can understand it.

Yes, it is necessary. Your employee has a right to an interpreter during the disciplinary enquiry. If you fail to provide one this may be grounds for her to challenge her dismissal (assuming there’s sufficient evidence to dismiss her) on the basis of procedural unfairness.

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Hating on Hate Speech

South Africans over the last few years have seen, heard and witnessed some pretty awful stuff. The hate-fueled vitriol spewing forth from some people has indeed been mind-boggling. Sadly, it has become evident that there remain an unfortunate number of racists in South Africa – across the colour spectrum. Not that any of this is news to any of us. Between our media and our social media, racists are being named-and-shamed with regular monotony. But racists should beware – it’s not just their good name that’s on the line. Even if the racist act isn’t deemed offensive enough to earn a jail sentence, their careers could well be on the line.

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Hate speech on social media

I’ve just been sent a screenshot of a comment that one of my employees made on Facebook. This comment is just horrible and offensive and clearly racist. It is completely the opposite of what my company stands for. Can I do anything about it? Like, dismiss her (preferably)? I don’t have any social media policy, or any other policy for that matter. It’s one of those things I mean to do but never get around to. What worries me is that anyone who goes onto this person’s profile will be able to see that my company employs her. I just don’t need that kind of media attention right now.      

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Evidencing the Dismissal

Why do your employees work for you? Be honest. Is it your boundless generosity? The awesome working environment? The character-building challenge of the projects? The invaluable experience? The office manager’s sparkling personality? Donuts on a Friday? The free coffee? All of the above? Let us not sugar-coat the truth. The real reason why employees work is for that all-important pay-cheque they get at the end of each month. And in a handful of cases, there are some employees who wouldn’t turn their noses up at the opportunity to tweak their take-home if they thought they could get away with it. Such an action may not be the wisest though, because dismissal may swiftly follow.

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Fair dismissal

I’m reasonably certain that one of my employees has been stealing from me, but I haven’t been able to catch her red-handed. I was thinking of simply firing her and sucking up the payment order from the CCMA. I’ve heard she can’t claim more than 12 months salary. I’d rather pay that than risk more shrinkage. The stock she’s been stealing is expensive.      

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Ending an agreement

Over the course of your life you are bound to enter into more agreements than you’d probably care to think about. These agreements may be printed or electronic, express or tacit, written or verbal. When entering into an agreement, how often do you ask, “How will this end?” Probably not often. Yet it’s an important consideration. The best time to consider the end of an agreement is not at its end, but actually at its beginning. And the best way to agree on a contract’s termination conditions is in writing.

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Lease renewal

 I own a small property that I leased to a business just over two years ago. I sent a notice to the tenants informing them that I was terminating the lease and they would be required to move out. I actually thought I was being generous by giving them 60 days’ notice to leave. The tenants have come back to say that they’re not moving out because they’re exercising their right to renew. The agreement says that the lease will last for two years. It doesn’t say anything about any renewal. Is it true that the tenant has a right to renew?