With large parts of the country having recently been flooded due to heavy rainfall, many people have suffered damage to their property.
Naturally, when rental property gets damaged due to rain or floods, the question then comes up of who will have to pay for the repairs? The tenant or the owner?
The general rule is that the risk and liability involved with immovable property will always be that of the owner.
This means that the owner of the property will be responsible to repair damage to the structure or permanent fittings to the property. The owner will have to repair any damage caused by acts of nature, which is outside of human control, such as floods, violent storms, earthquakes and other natural disasters.
The tenant will only be liable for damage caused to the property by his or her negligence. For example, if the tenant negligently causes a fire in the kitchen and burns the property down, the tenant will be liable for the damage caused to the property.
With property in a sectional title scheme, the position is regulated by the Sectional Title Act. In terms of section 37 of the Act, the body corporate is responsible to repair damage to the common property. The roofs, outside walls and foundations all fall under the common property and therefore if there is water damage due to rain or floods, the body corporate will have to pay for the repairs.
To summarise the position, the person who caused damage to immovable property will be liable to pay for the repairs. In the case where the damage caused is no one’s fault, such as in the case of floods or natural disasters, the owner of the property will be liable for the repairs.