Landlords are responsible if municipal services provided to their tenants are not paid for, the Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday. In giving the single ruling in three related cases Judge Zak Yacoob said that although legislation allowed for the deprivation of property, the deprivation was not arbitrary and therefore did not infringe section 25(1) of the Constitution.
Municipalities are obliged to provide services in a sustainable way and to provide owners with copies of electricity and water accounts sent to their tenants, if the owners asked for these in writing. Robert Martindale, an attorney for the landlords, said that the ruling does not necessarily mean that landlords are liable for tenants' arrears as the Constitutional Court has said that the issue of liability is a High Court case. There is currently a case pending with the High Court that will determine landlords' liability under such circumstances.
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