Records such as those pertaining to the rental income received from tenants as well as expenditure incurred in the course of improving, repairing and/or upgrading the rental property in question must be documented and maintained without fail.
BUT WHY SHOULD THIS BE SO?
Because there are a number of various reasons for this. And these reasons are tabulated below.
1. Legal Requirement
It is a legal requirement in Zambia to keep and maintain records such as a 'Rent Book' for instance by a landlord of residential rental property particularly of the rental income received as well as the expenditure incurred as already alluded to in the preceding paragraph above. And failure to do so on the part of a landlord results in punitive consequences under the law.
The relevant law in question is section 19 of the Rent Act, Chapter 206 of the Laws of Zambia which provides as follows verbatim:
"(1) Every landlord of premises shall keep or cause to be kept in respect of the premises a Rent Book in such form as the Minister may, by statutory instrument, prescribe, and shall supply a copy thereof to the tenant without making any charge therefor.
(2) The landlord shall maintain or cause to be maintained in the Rent Book a record comprising the parties to the tenancy, the premises, the standard rent and the rent payable under the tenancy, if different from the standard rent, and all payments of rent made, and the landlord shall sign or cause to be signed by his agent each entry in the rent book.
(3) Any landlord who contravenes the provisions of subsection (1) or (2), shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding two thousand penalty units or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both".
2. Records Help In Dispute Resolution Between The Parties
Keeping and maintaining records such as a rent book especially by the landlord including the tenant helps in resolving disputes in case of default on the part of the tenant in terms of paying rental fees, misunderstandings or other differences that come as a result of the landlord and tenant relationship. For the landlord, it helps him or her in terms of concrete and cemented evidence when the rent book is tendered in court as evidence showing how a tenant may have been defaulting when it comes to payment of rental fees.
Therefore, as a landlord, never make it so easy for a tenant to make it so difficult for you to recover your rental fees arrears as a result of want of concrete evidence on your part when trying to prove your case in a court of law regarding how hard and difficult a tenant has been in meeting his or her tenant obligations. Such seemingly simple things as keeping and maintaining a Rent Book can turn out to be a nightmare indeed for an affected landlord when the need arises for such documentary evidence. Shrewd lawyers and tenants who are knowledgeable of such matters can capitalize on this vital missing piece of evidence and make a landlord loose his or her case for want of this vital corroborative piece of evidence!
3. Records Help When It Comes To Increasing The Standard Rent Payable By a Tenant
Keeping and maintaining records especially expenditure on repairs, improvements and/or upgrades on the part of a landlord helps when it comes to wanting to increase the monthly standard rent payable by a tenant as long as it is done within the provisions of the relevant law particularly section 11 of the Rent Act which stipulates how the standard rent may be increased by a landlord if a landlord wishes to increase the same that is.
Part of Section 11 is hereby reproduced below verbatim for your own convenience and easy of reference:
"(1) A landlord may, by notice in writing to the tenant, increase the standard rent of any premises, that is to say:-
(a) in the case of premises upon which the rates payable by the landlord have increased since the prescribed date-
(i) by the amount of such increase, where the premises were let on or before the prescribed date; and
(ii) by the amount of the increase in rates payable by the landlord since the premises were let, where they were let after the prescribed date;
(b) in any case where the landlord has, since the prescribed date, incurred expenditure on the improvement or structural alteration of premises (excluding expenditure on redecoration or repair, whether structural repair or not) or in connection with the installation or improvement of a drainage or sewerage system or the construction or making good of a street or road executed by or at the instance of a local authority, by an amount calculated at a rate per annum not exceeding fifteen per centum of the expenditure so incurred".
4. Records Help When It Comes To Accessing Required Financing From Financiers Such as Banks and Other Funders!
Keeping and maintaining records by a landlord can also help one when the need to access and obtain further financing from the various financiers arises. These funds may be needed in order to help a particular landlord improve, make alterations to existing infrastructure and/or make repairs or even use the funds advanced for outright purchase of new real estate stock thus increasing a landlord's portfolio of real property investments. The banks or financiers will be able to provide these funds to a particular landlord on the basis and evidence of records kept and maintained in the form of the Rent book showing the rental income receivable per month as well as expenses. If the rental income received per month shows in the Rent book that it is more than the expenses incurred, then this provides the financiers enough evidence and justification to issue such funds knowing that they will be able to get back their money via monthly deductions if such a landlord's rental income passes through a bank account!
5. Records Help With The Determination of Payment of Relevant Taxes Such As Withholding Tax on Rental Income Earned
Keeping and maintaining records also helps both the landlord and the tenant in determining the tax payable particularly withholding tax on rental income received. It also makes it easy for tax authorities to calculate the tax payable by landlords as well as verification of the rental income received and expenses incurred in the course of the residential rental property business done by landlords.
Therefore, in conclusion, as you've read and seen, it is crucially important for both the landlord and tenant to keep and maintain records due to the reasons enumerated above. This helps both the landlord, tenant as well as other concerned parties and authorities such as financiers like banks and tax authorities when it comes to issuing or advancing loans and calculating tax payable by landlords respectively!!!!!!!!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR - DAVID KAPALU
David Kapalu is a Real Estate Investment Consultant who happens to be a duly Registered Member of the Zambian Institute of Estate Agents, an Internet Marketing Specialist, Motivational Speaker, Public Speaker, Life Coach and Trainer. He is also a 2nd Year Bachelor’s Degree Law Student studying with the Zambian Open University. He is someone who understands his subject so well and knows how to reduce complex matters into simple to understand matters.
Therefore, Call/Sms him right now on +260 955 168754 and contract him for one on one real estate investment advice!
He also stands ready to be booked for speaking engagements as well as offer free and paid radio and television interviews with any individual or organization interested in him sharing his deep insight and understanding of real estate matters as well as offer legal advice pertaining to land rights and ownership in the Zambian market!