Available at: http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2015/02/22/landlord-caught-in-fees-scam
Landlord caught in fees scam
Landlords thinking about ripping off their tenants had better think again.
The owner of a residential building in Hillbrow has been ordered to pay back almost R2-million to his tenants after illegally overcharging them for electricity for years.
Min Shan Young was paying R337.50 a month in service fees to Johannesburg's City Power but charged each of his 106 tenants R385.
This meant that Young was making a monthly profit of more than R40000, which the Johannesburg High Court last week ruled illegal.
Fikile Jele, 48, who has lived in the building for 18 years, said that relations between Young and his tenants had always been amiable.
But in May 2009, when the electricity service charge was introduced, the relationship became strained.
The tenants were unhappy that they now had to fork out money over and above what they paid for the electricity they consumed.
A representative of City Power said at a meeting in March 2012 that Young was "robbing" the tenants and demanded that he stop surcharging the service fee.
Young said he used the surcharge for maintenance and to recover costs.
Jele and other tenants took their grievance to the Gauteng Housing Rental Tribunal and in May 2013 it ruled in their favour. They then stopped paying the additional fee.
The tribunal found that Young was not entitled to profit from the electricity he provided to his tenants and must repay the difference.
Young challenged the Gauteng Housing Rental Tribunal's ruling in the Johannesburg High Court but on Friday the court upheld it.