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Namibia Rental Guide


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On a more practical note:

As lessor it is advisable to check the credibility of potential tenants and ascertain their employment and whether they receive sufficient income to meet their obligations in terms of the lease agreement. However, do not discriminate either by race, gender, marital status, age disability or religion or who are allowed as visitors of the tenants. It is further advisable to rather accept a good tenant at a lower price than a bad tenant at a higher price.

There should always be a thorough joint inspection together with a written report which indicates the defects of the property on commencement date of the lease agreement. Make sure that both parties to the lease agreement sign this list. Furthermore, be clear on who will be responsible to fix any of the pre-existing defects even before signing the lease agreement.

Never agree to letting without taking a deposit. Also stipulate exactly how the deposit will utilised - and stay to that.

This will cover many unforeseen costs and damages. It is the landlord’s right to deduct expenses (from the deposit) incurred from repairing damages to the property which occurred during the lease period. The landlord may not deduct costs for general maintenance and upkeep (wear and tear) of the property from the deposit. The tenant has the right to receive a receipt for the deposit, and such deposit must be invested in an interest bearing account at a bank. The tenant has a further right to see all repair receipts to confirm what was actually spent in order to repair damages to the property caused by the tenant. The balance of the money (plus interest as agreed upon) must then be refunded to the tenant as the agreement stipulates.

Once the agreement is in place you need to make provision for the monthly payments. The safest way would be post dated cheques or, more preferably, monthly debit orders. This can only be done with the written consent of the tenant.


General rights and obligations of Landlords and tenants

The Landlord:should deliver the property in a good condition and fit to live in and furthermore maintain the and repair ware and tear damages;

  • needs to make provision out of his/her own pocket for rates and taxes as well as home owners insurance;
  • is entitled to inspect the property as long as he/she gives sufficient notice to the tenant;
  • may not terminate the lease agreement simply because he/she has sold the property to a third party, because of the common law rule of “huur gaat voor koop”; and
  • cannot illegally evict a tenant or take the law into his/her own hands even if the tenant defaults in terms of the lease agreement. Appropriate steps should be taken through a lawyer.

The Tenant:

  • has to pay the rent as agreed upon in the lease agreement;
  • may only use the property for the purpose for which it was let;
  • is liable for damages caused during his/her stay;
  • is liable for the water and electricity as well as general maintenance such as the garden and pool;
  • must allow the owner to put “for sale” signs in front of the house and allow prospective purchasers to enter on reasonable and convenient appointments; and
  • must deliver the property back to the landlord on termination of the lease agreement in the same condition he/she took occupation.

Working through an Agent:

As a tenant, always ensure that you deal with an agent registered as such at the Namibia Estate Agents board with a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate. Dealing with a typical “fly-by-night” agent who is unregistered would mean that you would not have the remedies in terms of the Estate Agents Act in case of a fraudulent agent. However, dealing with the registered agent will, amongst other things, ensure that your deposit is safe and protected and will be repaid at the end of the lease agreement subject to conditions thereof.

As a landlord, if you are entrusting an agent to look after the letting of your property, make sure to still keep a finger on the pulse. It is very easy for things to get out of control and the natural thing would be to point finger and not take responsibility when things turn sour.

Distinguish between the “full management agent” and a “letting agent only”.
While the letting agent will probably perform a “once off” duty to find the tenant and set up the lease agreement, you will still need to collect the monthly rental and to manage the lease. This letting agent will normally be entitled to a once off “commission fee” close or equal to a month’s rent.

The full management agent on the other hand will take care and responsibility of the whole letting procedure. These duties would include for instance: advertising the property to rent, selecting a tenant, setting up the lease agreement, collecting deposit and monthly rentals, visiting and checking up on the property and serving notices, etc. Services of the full management agent will normally be based on a monthly percentage of the rent.

Rental Disputes

It is not advised to take the law into your own hands when it comes to rental disputes such as outstanding rent. The best is to speak to your lawyer and take the appropriate legal steps based on the following guidelines:

When it comes to disputes our common law is applied strictly as the basis of the interpretation of the agreement between the parties. Our Courts will not lightly interfere where the terms of a contract of lease are unambiguous, not contra bones mores (against good moral standards), against public policy or against legislation.

However, the process of getting legal redress in case of arrears rent can be cumbersome and time consuming. The right of the other party to be heard (the audi alterem in partem rule) is a central pillar of our law, specifically in the case of landlord and tenant because landlords, as in most other countries of the world, can be notoriously harsh on their tenants and can afford expensive legal experts, while tenants can more often than not not afford legal representation. As a result our Courts almost always apply the audi alterem rule.

The landlord has an effective remedy in the Magistrate’s Court Act and specifically the Automatic Rent Interdict.

In short: the landlord has special protection which allows him to issue summons in the Magistrate’s Court for arrears of rent which causes an automatic rent interdict to apply to the tenant’s movables. This is called the "Landlord’s Hypothec". The hypothec allows the Landlord to sell the movable goods of the tenant (and in certain instances movables of a third party) which are on the leased premises if the tenant fails to pay the rent. The hypothec exists from the date of the tenant's occupation of the leased premises, but becomes legally enforceable once a Court Order (rent interdict summons) is obtained. Therefore, prior to a Court Order being obtained, the tenant is free to remove the movable goods from the premises at any time. The Landlord may also bring the hypothec into effect by interdicting the tenant from removing goods from the premises. Ones the summons is obtained attachment of the moveable goods can be made even if those items are stored at another location. Such movables cannot be removed from the property, until judgment by the Court in respect of the matter has been given.

For the Automatic Rent Interdict to be effective:

  • Before the landlord or his/her agent can institute legal action, the landlord (or lessor) should not be in breach himself/herself regarding any conditions of the lease agreement. For example, should the contract stipulate the deposit should be invested in an interest bearing account the lessor or his/her agent should provide proof thereof, or when the agreement refers to a written report and condition of property with a list of defects such list should indeed exist.
  • Effective notice of breach should first be given to the lessee in terms of the lease agreement (should the agreement make provision for a notice period and they way in which notice should be given, it should happen accordingly).
  • The domicile address should not be a postal address and should be a physical address within the borders of Namibia.
  • The original lease agreement should be duly stamped before actual legal procedures may commence.

Sale of a leased property

In terms of our law the alienation of leased property consisting of land or buildings in pursuance of a contract of sale does not bring the lease to an end.

The purchaser (new owner) is substituted ex lege for the original lessor and the latter falls out of the picture. On being so substituted, the new owner acquires by operation of law all the rights of the original lessor under the lease. At the same time the new owner is obliged to recognise the lessee and to permit him/her to continue to occupy the leased premises in terms of the lease, provided that he/she (the lessee) continues to pay the rent and otherwise to observe his/her obligations under the lease. The lessee, in turn, is also bound by the lease and, provided that the new owner recognises his/her rights, does not have any option or right of election to resile from the contract (see also Buying Tips).

Applicable Duties and taxes

  • The Value Added Tax Act determines that 15% of the rental amount is payable in tax, provided that the lessor is registered for tax, which he/she must be if he/she has a turnover of N$200 000 or more per annum.
  • Income Tax: Any rental income received becomes part either your personal or business income which makes you or the business liable to pay taxes. Certain expenses may however be written off against the income you derived from rental. It is best to consult with your accountant in this regard to ensure that you structure your affairs in the most tax efficient manner possible.
  • Stamp Duties Act: Stamp duties are payable on the aggregate amount of rent over the period of lease according to the scale provided for in the Act. It is best to consult with your attorney or the Receiver of Revenue when calculating the amount of stamp duty payable on a lease - however you can also calculate the stamps by making use of the Rental Guide download.

Renting or Buying a property?

When renting accommodation it may be true that you don’t need much of a capital outlay and that you can relocate rather easily, but it also means that you do not own a place of your own. This freedom to relocate quicker might benefit some, although one has to weigh this up against the fact that you are paying off someone else’s mortgage.

Whether you buy an existing house or build a house from scratch, some initial capital of your own will be required, but all price escalations in the housing market will be for your own benefit.

Renting a property may mean that you pay less on a monthly base for having a roof over your head and the possibility remains that you may have some spare cash more readily available for unforeseen circumstances. However, when owning a property it can be used as security to obtain finance and most major banks provide home loan facilities that allow the homeowner/mortgager to have access to excess funds available in the home loan account.

One should also not be too quick to think that because of the fluctuating and possible increasing interest rates it would be easier on the budget to rent. Remember that because of increase in interest rate, landlords would also be looking for ways to increase rent because they still need to pay their mortgages. Most rental agreements also make provision for annual increases which may be even more of a budget burden than an increase in interest rates and subsequent mortgage payments.

The reality is, whether rental or mortgage payment, you will pay and the increase is unavoidable. The difference being that every dollar paid for rent simply goes into someone else’s pocket, and the dream of owning your own place keeps slipping further and further away. Any escalation in property prices is also to the benefit of the property owner, while the tenant simply has to pay a higher rent.

Probably the biggest advantages of renting a property is the fact that you would in most cases not be responsible for maintenance and payments of taxes. However, this is not always the case and one has to carefully examine the lease agreement to ensure who is responsible for these obligations.

Owning the property indeed provides you with a sense of security that is not present in the case of renting. Ownership is a strong right and one can do almost anything you please with the property, providing it is not restricted by law.

One of the biggest pitfalls of buying a property is probably the costs involved in doing so. As a potential buyer you should always ensure that you are aware of all the costs involved (financial, registration, taxes and duties, etc.) when purchasing a property.

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