In February 2013, my husband and I started looking for accommodation for February–July 2014 in Kalk Bay. Very soon we got in touch with Ruben, the landlord of Casa Luna at 80 Main Road. A meeting was arranged, dates for arrival and departure were suggested, and conditions were discussed. As of July 2014, we can say that what seemed as Spartan at first sight, turned out to be a right-down nightmare. And over two months after moving out prematurely due to intolerable living standards, we are still waiting for the landlord to repay the remainder of the rent that was prepaid.
Below is a concise list in chronological order, of all the things that went wrong from day 1. To sum it up: If you want a fuss-free stay in Kalk Bay, stay away from Casa Luna! And if you really have to challenge yourself by staying there, make sure you save all correspondence for future reference.
In March 2013, a month after our verbal agreement on renting, we were told by the landlord that he considered turning the place into a backpackers.
After three months of silence, not knowing whether we should look for a new place or not, and after insisting on a straight answer regarding the reshaping to a backpackers, we were told in June 2013 that we could still have the place between the dates agreed on.
In an email dated June 24 2013, the landlord suggested we pay R8,500 per month – to be compared with the R7,500 per month that was talked about in the beginning; that’s a 14-per cent raise, but it would include wi-fi, however not electricity. In another email, dated January 9 2014, he let us know that the cost for wi-fi would be R250 a month.
In August 2013, after six months of emailing about arrangements, we were told that we could no longer rent the apartment the first month of our stay (February 2014) as had been agreed on. Instead, we were welcome to start our lease in March. In December 2013, ten months after the initial discussions, we received an email in which the landlord said that he had lost track of our dates, but that we could move in at the beginning of February 2014 – i.e. according to the original agreement. At that point, we had already found and paid for another apartment due to the above notice.
One of two sets of keys missing, which took over two weeks to replace.
Switch to bathroom light not functioning, which took over a week to handle.
One of four blinds working, and after somebody finally coming to have a look at it, two of four blinds working.
Malfunctioning radiators, which were rusty and shot sparks while in use.
Aggressive mildew in the bathroom, which was never addressed.
At least three nights a week, there was a terrible noise from patrons arriving to and departing from the Brass Bell, the restaurant/pub across the street. This was ongoing from late evening until after closing time at 2 A.M. Tony White, owner of the restaurant, responded with arrogance and ignorance when approached. As for the landlord, he denied the fact that noise from the Brass Bell has ever been a problem for other tenants – despite that we could produce evidence for the opposite.
The contract lacked a cancellation clause, which meant that we could only rely on the Consumer’s Protection Act (CPA), which states that we can cancel the contract with 20 days’ notice. When approached about this and suggesting a refund for the remainder of the prepaid rent, the landlord, who was not aware of the CPA from 2011, avoided to respond, and not until 15 emails and a week later did he acknowledge our consumer’s right, at which point we were offered a refund that was to be adjusted according to the promptitude of which he could get replacement tenants, as well as their rent.
After considering a number of interested parties, the landlord chose to proceed with applicants who were under the obligation of an existing lease rather than one who offered to move in right away. This is of course his prerogative as a landlord, but to us it meant a drawback on the refund, which the landlord showed no interest in compensating.
In May 10 2014 – three weeks after our formal cancellation of the lease, and after repeatedly asking about it – we finally got a straight reply about the amount of the refund.
Out of the blue, the price of the bedding was brought up by the landlord, to be deducted from the refund. This was a figure that he promised to work out and inform us about in an email dated January 10 2014, but which was never done – until now. And it was unreasonably high.
After finally transferring the refund to our bank account on May 31 2014, we were informed by the landlord that additional deduction had been made, due to our miscalculation of the prepaid rent and the deposit. However, we could soon prove that the miscalculation was on his account; we had paid the correct amount for the deposit, and it was his bank that had charged him for an international transaction. This difference took us several bank statements and even more emails to explain, and the landlord’s simply seemed unwilling to understand the evidence presented to him. By the time the landlord was convinced that it was a bank fee on his end and not our miscalculation, more than a month had passed and we had already left the country, making the settling of the debt more complicated.
As of July 30 2014, two months after the transaction of the refund, we are still anticipating the final adjustment of the debt. We have received an email that the payment will be taken care of, and that we will be sent evidence of that (the landlord suggested the money was to be donated to charity, since he wanted to avoid further bank fees for international transactions, which we agreed to). However, our enquiry regarding the discrepancy in the conditions for the wi-fi has so far been ignored. If we ever get a reply to that, chances are that we will be referred to the contract we signed, regardless of previous written agreements in our email correspondence.