TENANT’S DUTY TO MAINTAIN THE GARDEN AND POOL AND THE CURRENT WATER RESTRICTIONS


Most residential lease agreements have a provision requiring the tenant to maintain the garden of the leased premises. If there is a swimming pool on the premises, the tenant is usually also tasked with keeping it in a good and clean condition.

The current water restrictions that are in place in Cape Town cast a spanner in the works. It is obviously not possible for a landlord to hold a tenant liable for deterioration of the garden and the dying of plants as far as this relates to the prohibition on watering the garden, currently imposed under the level 4B restrictions. A landlord will therefore not be able to withhold a part of or the whole deposit in respect of damage to plants and lawns, in such circumstances.

On the other hand, the tenant remains liable to maintain the garden in a neat and presentable condition, as far as this is required in the lease agreement. Within reason, it may even be required of a tenant to use grey water for watering the garden with a bucket or watering can. This may not be convenient, particularly if the tenant expected to have an irrigation system. Ideally a landlord and tenant should reach a separate agreement on this aspect, especially because landlords and tenants alike are uncertain of their obligations in the face of the unanticipated severity of the drought. There is, in any event, also some controversy about whether grey water is suitable for watering plants.

The questions we receive from clients show that there is also a lot of confusion in the rental market in those instances where tenants are liable to maintain a swimming pool on the leased premises. If the pool's water levels drop too much, the pool walls and structure risk being damaged. But to maintain pool water levels without a (generally costly) pool cover, is at present hardly possible and in any event not permitted.

There are various solutions that can work, but it is best that the landlord and tenant agree thereto in writing, to avoid later uncertainty and comebacks.

Contact Martin Sheard at STBB Claremont at mailto:martins@stbb.co.za or on http://www.stbb.co.za for assistance.

Six ways to build up your property rental business

Building up a rental “book” is a great way to increase and steady the cash flow in a real estate business, but many owners and principals don’t really know how to win more rental management contracts from landlords.

Here are some expert suggestions:

  • Tap into your existing network first. Probably the easiest and most cost-effective way to start building up your book is through the people you currently already have relationships with or come into contact with on a daily basis. “You should never be afraid to ask for new business or referrals to their friends or colleagues who may be struggling with a rental management problem,” says Shaun Rademeyer, CEO of SA’s biggest bond originator BetterLife Home Loans, “as you will often find it resolves a problem for them at the same time as it boosts your revenue.”
  • Put someone on the task full-time. If you want to increase your rental mangement book and thrive, you need a person who is permanently looking for new customers and keeping in touch with existing ones. The ideal person for this task is someone with sales and customer relations skills who is 100% dedicated to acquiring and retaining rental business.
  • Build and maintain a database with the contact details of all your landlords, tenants, tradespeople, prospective investors, prospective tenants, past landlords, past tenants and past home sellers and buyers. Communicate with all these people regularly, perhaps via a monthly newsletter, and increase business by offering incentives for landlords to transfer other properties to your agency, incentives for referrals that lead to new business, and incentives for tenants who purchase a new home through your agency.
  • Use proven rental property management software. Rademeyer notes that there are several excellent systems available that will enable you to easily keep track of your mandates, deposits, rental payments, lease details and renewal dates, maintenance requirements and the profitability of your rental book. Some will even enable you to run credit and tenant history checks on potential tenants, and generate standard lease and other documents that are regularly updated and fully legally compliant.
  • Reward any of your own team members who bring in new rental business, such as an agent who has just sold an investment property to a landlord and persuaded him to let your company manage it. You should also ensure that your sales staff always have your rental management marketing material on hand.
  • Advertise your rental listings everywhere - including local noticeboards and smaller newspapers as well as the classifieds in bigger papers and online through all the major property portals. And, says Rademeyer, you should not forget to work on your own website so that when tenants (and landlords) visit, it is attractive and easy for them to find the information they require, including your contact details. “These days, it is also increasingly important to ensure that your site is mobile-friendly, because most people now access the internet via their smartphones.”

Anne-Marie Bamber is Norgarb Properties dedicated Home Loans Consultant. She has over 15 years’ experience in assisting clients with their Home Loan needs and has placed many happy families in their dream homes.

Contact her today for no cost stress-free home-buying.
Anne-Marie Bamber
Home Loans consultant
Tel: +27 (0)21 851 3568 | Fax: +27 (0)21 441 1494 | Cell: +27 (0)82 071 1665
E-mail: anne-marie.bamber@betterlife.co.za

Keep your Immune System strong this Winter


Winter is upon us, and that means colds and flus are running rampant around us.  You can keep the bugs at bay by making sure that your immune system is strong.  A poor diet is the number one reason that we may become susceptible to illness in the colder weather.  We should therefore make it our goal to get as much nutrition from our diet as we can.  Let’s take a look at what foods to load up on to get the best nutritional effect.

Probiotics
70-80% of our immune system is within the gut, so keeping the gut healthy should be a priority.  Probiotics keep the gut healthy and ensure the immune system functions well.  They boost the body’s immune function, assist the body with a barrier against infections, and offer a defence against the effects caused by inflammation.  Probiotics are available in supplement form, but studies have shown that having about 200ml of yoghurt daily is just as effective in boosting immunity.  Choose to incorporate a low fat plain or fruit yoghurt (which has no sugar added) ‘with live cultures’ daily for ideal gut health.  Aside from cultured dairy products, fermented vegetables (sauerkraut or pickles, olives) and fermented soybeans (miso, tempeh) are also fantastic foods to support the gut bacteria.

Eat a Rainbow of Fruit and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients that are able to protect our cells from harm.  The important point is variety and colour.  To get a wide range of nutrients add oranges, broccoli, red, green and yellow peppers, kiwi, strawberries, tomatoes, carrots, butternut, papaya, dark green leaves, sweet potatoes, aubergines, mushrooms, onions, garlic (to name just a few!) to your diet. 

A great way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet in winter is to make a vegetable soup – it’s the perfect way to warm up and strengthen your immune system!  If you struggle eating fruit in winter you can either stew it (or simply place a fruit such as an apple in the microwave for a minute!) or eat the dried fruit (however, remember that 20g of dried fruit – 2-3 pieces – is a fruit).

The important nutrients for the immune system which are found in the vegetables and fruit are:
  • Vitamin A – also found in fish and liver
  • Vitamin B6 – also high in seeds, nuts and fish
  • Vitamin C – a daily high dose supplement of vitamin C does not reduce the risk of getting a cold but may slightly reduce the time and severity of the symptoms.  Athletes can reduce their incidence of colds by as much as 50% by taking 200mg or more of vitamin C daily.
  • Vitamin D – also high in fish, cheese and eggs
  • Vitamin E – also found in nuts, seeds, avocados and fish.  Vitamin E supplementation has been shown to increase immunity in the elderly
  • Zinc – mild zinc deficiency is associated with lowered immune function among older adults and supplementation of this mineral has been shown to improve immune function in the elderly.  Zinc is also high in seafood (especially oysters), seeds, nuts and legumes
  • Folate – also found in legumes, nuts and eggs

Alcohol
Most people enjoy alcohol at celebrations or when they socialise, but too much of a good thing can weaken your immune system and cause you to get sick more often.  Generally anything over two drinks a day for men and one for women starts having detrimental effects on our health.  Remember that 1 drink is equivalent to 125ml of wine or champagne, 1 tot of spirits or 1 can of beer or cider.

Healthy Lifestyle
The bottom line is that if you want a strong immune system you should follow a healthy lifestyle.  Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when it is supported by healthy living.  This means maintaining a healthy weight (obesity is associated with a higher risk of inflammation as well as an increased risk of infection), eating lots of fruit, vegetables and whole grains, not smoking, exercising regularly, drinking alcohol in moderation,  getting enough sleep and managing your stress.

Phone: 021 674 4666
Cell: 084 206 2715

Neuroscience and Water Saving

With our water supply in Cape Town at a record low, what can we learn from neuroscience about how to use our flexible brains to adapt and change our habits - before we reach our last drop?


By Dr Samantha J. Brooks Ph.D.


Those of us living in and around Cape Town are concerned and reminded daily - on flashing signs as we drive along the freeways - that our water usage, combined with a number of dry months, has left our dams at record low levels (12%: July 2017).  Drought warnings are at critical level 4, with people being advised to use only 87 litres per day. Nevertheless, there have been many “water guzzlers”– who used between 100,000 - 700,000 litres of water per month (that’s an astonishing 3,000 – 20,000 litres per day!). Despite this shocking statistic, ingenious people in Cape Town have found new ways to save water and reduce usage: from capturing water by showering over a bowl, redirecting grey water pipes to a water barrel and washing (bodies, clothes and cars) much less frequently. And there’s the slightly crude, age-old adage: if it’s yellow, let it mellow - only if it’s brown, flush it down.  However, even those of us trying to save water are not used to having a limited supply.  So with the situation at its most critical in recorded history, what can we learn from neuroscience about how to use our flexible brains to adapt, cut down and save water?


Habits - like how we use water - are difficult to break, especially when we’ve been taught over and over again that water is good for us (our bodies are supposedly made up of 85% water).  It also feels good to drink cold water on a hot day or after doing some exercise.  And for those of you who don’t like to drink it – soft drinks, beer and wine also contain water!  It also feels good to have a nice long hot shower, to regularly water our gardens to keep them green and to clean our clothes and our cars. Habits are linked to the brain systems that make us feel good – the dopamine reward system – which begins deep in the middle of our brains.  But it’s usually substances such as drugs of abuse, food, alcohol and behaviours such as shopping, social media and gambling – not water usage – that are linked to stimulation of the reward part of the brain.  However, behaviours that we do often – like drinking and using water – become compulsive and we may find it very difficult to change them. 


Water is closely linked to our sense of survival, which could be why, even if we don’t like drinking it, we feel safe when we have easy access to it. Our compulsive, excessive use of water makes us feel good, which stimulates our reward brain networks.  However, being told that we must drastically cut down on our water usage sets us into panic mode, and the panic – or loss – system in the brain is closely linked to our primitive sense of attachment and safety.  When we feel the threat of loss – especially to our very survival – this can activate fear, anxiety, helpnessness and depression, which goes against our feelings of reward and could encourage denial of a problem (‘the water guzzlers’). Our brain’s panic or loss system involves activation of the hypothalamus, pituitary glands (for release of stress hormones), adrenal glands (for release of adrenalin), thalamus, amygdala and hippocampus (all found in the middle of the brain, working in opposition to our dopamine reward system). However, the frontal cortex has direct pathways - via a large gateway in the brain called the cingulate cortex – that help to alter our perceptions of panic, and of the world around us. 

When things need to change, it is the frontal cortex – linked to our sense of self and what we set as our future goals – that help our brain pathways to change, or to rewire. In neuroscience we call this neuroplasticity – which literally means that the brain is plastic and that it can remodel itself (but with ‘your’ help!).  In other words, if we start repeating good habits regarding our water usage, like showering less often, capturing grey water and flushing the loo only when we need to, our brains will adapt.  Our brains will make the physical changes necessary so we can feel less panic about our dwindling water supply.  And if we gradually change our brains in this way, we may just adapt to our current water crisis, so that in the next few years we can get our dam levels back up to normal again.  But the bad news is, if we repeat our usual water usage habits, our brains won’t change and Cape Town will surely – and soon – run dry!

Dr Samantha Brooks is a neuroscientist at the UCT Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, specialising in the neural correlates of impulse control from eating disorders to addiction.  For more information on neuroscience at UCT and to contact Samantha, see www.drsamanthabrooks.com.





The Ageing Dog

We all know how quickly time flies. One minute you are cleaning up after your new puppy and the next minute you realise your 'puppy' is old and seems reluctant to get out of bed in the morning! Each life stage brings new joy and new challenges. This month we are going to explore some of the changes your dog faces as it ages and what we can do to ensure we have a happy and healthy hound.

HOW OLD IS MY DOG?
As our dogs live relatively short lives in comparison to humans, it is sometimes difficult to comprehend the way ageing progresses in our pet. Different breeds also age differently, the giant breeds such as the Great Dane for example, are thought of as middle aged around 5 years old.
Whereas in the smaller and medium breeds it is usually around 7yrs. Here are a few of the common problems associated with ageing.

NUTRITION
The most important thing you can do for your dog is to help it maintain a healthy weight throughout its life.

Most pet owners understand the importance of good nutrition and the role it plays in the health of their dog. It is just as important to remember that nutritional requirements change as a dog ages. 

WEIGHT GAIN OBESITY                             
Weight gain is common in older dogs for several reasons but obesity, especially in the senior dog, can be the cause of/ or can complicate other health problems. If you think your dog is getting a little 'chunky'. check the feeding guide provided by the brand of food you are using to ensure you are feeding the correct quantity and if necessary, reduce the amount.


Is the food still relevant to your dog's life stage?
As dogs age, it is common for their metabolism to slow meaning their calorific requirements will be less than when they were younger and more active. Most good quality dog foods take this into consideration, which is why they produce foods appropriate to the various stages of your dog's life. 


WEIGHT LOSS
This can also be a problem in the older dog, although this is usually associated with more serious underlying medical issues. If you have noticed that your dog is losing weight - get him checked out by your vet. There are many health issues that can be managed by using the correct diet in your ageing pet.

BAD BREATH!
DENTAL HYGEINE is one of the health issues most neglected by dog owners and yet has a profound impact upon the wellbeing of your pet.
If you have not been keeping a check on your dog's teeth over the years, either by brushing them yourself or by having regular dental checks and teeth cleans done by your Veterinarian, there will be a good chance your dog will develop some form of oral disease. Bad breath, drooling, bloody gums and loose teeth are all signs of deteriorating periodontal disease. This can lead to systemic infections or aggravate existing conditions such as impaired kidney function. Owners may not realise the impact dental issues are having on their dog - until they are treated and their dog suddenly has a new lease on life!


ARTHRITIS AND JOINT PAIN
If your dog is slowing down and long walks aren't possible any more, consider doing shorter ones more frequently. 

As we age, it is common for some of us to suffer from decreased movement and arthritis  and our pets are no different. Hip dysplasia is a common genetical defect in dogs but may only have serious impact as our dog ages.

There are many ways in which you can alleviate joint and arthritic pain. A trip to your Vet will be of great benefit and he may suggest: -

  • The use of prescribed pain killers
  • Changing to a joint support diet
  • using orthopaedic bedding or a ramp to help him get into the car 

BLINDNESS AND LOSS OF HEARING
Deafness in old dogs is common but often misinterpreted by the owner as confusion, stubbornness or early signs of dementia. As your dog ages, it may experience gradual hearing loss and although nothing can be done to restore your dog's hearing there are simple ways, like using hand signals, that can help your dog adapt.
In the same way, your old dog may slowly lose its sight, either due to degeneration in the eye or the development of cataracts. Again the slow loss of sight is rarely a problem for your dog if its home environment remains the same.  If you are worried that your dog may be blind get him checked by your vet.

URINARY INCONTINENCE
This tends to be more of a problem for old spayed female dogs than for males but it can occur in both. A thorough check by your vet should be done to establish the cause which, in females is most often easily treated with oestrogen replacements.

KIDNEY DISEASE
The gradual degeneration of the kidneys is inevitable and can result in serious illness. With regular health checks by your veterinarian, early signs of kidney disease can be detected and treated, therefore prolonging the quality and life span of your dog.
BEHAVIOURAL CHANGES
Yes, it is possible for your dog to suffer from dementia or Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome. If your dog seems:
  • confused and disorientated
  • starts pacing
  • irritable or snappy
Consult your veterinarian and have a general health check. Again, there are various things that can help your ageing dog,  including prescription diets!
Your dog may be old but still deserves your care and love. After all, loyalty doesn't age!




Sleep

By Dr Murray McDonald
Study after study keeps rolling out saying the same thing: for good health and prevention of disease, you HAVE to get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis. It is estimated that people should try to get 7-9 hours of sleep most nights with minimal interruptions. 

Sleep can improve your mental and muscular performance, mood, immune function, metabolism, and blood pressure. It prevents heart disease, stroke, cancer, dementia, etc, etc. Sleep is a vital part of your body’s repair processes. 
So do it. And here’s how:

Photo by Maeghan Smulders on Unsplash
  1. Keep your bedtime the same as often as possible. This lets your body’s internal clock settle into a pattern of being awake and then sleeping. This can be tough if you have shift work or unruly deadlines, but do your best.
  2. Have a routine that prepares you for sleep. This also lets the body and brain know that sleep is approaching and will react accordingly. Things like bathing, reading, meditation, physical intimacy and a whole host of other things can be built into your routine – just make sure they ultimately wind you down for the night. So NO stimulants of any kind (caffeine, vigorous exercise, etc.).
  3. Reduce exposure to light and electronics an hour before bedtime. Your eyes and brain use light as a signal to decide when to sleep and when to wake up. Therefore if you reduce the exposure to light (dim the lights, turn off the TV, etc) you send the signal that it’s time for some shut-eye (anyone who’s been camping can attest to this – an hour or two after sunset and you are crawling into your sleeping bag). This may also include getting black-out curtains if the sun rises long before your wake-time. If you absolutely HAVE TO work until bedtime, most screens these days have a “night mode” or “red-shift” function that removes the blue light coming from your screen - it looks a little weird, but it will reduce the effect the light is having on your brain.
  4. A really interesting resource on how to set up your bedroom for optimum sleep: Sleep Foundation
  5. Ensure a comfortable sleep posture
  6. If you do wake up and can’t get back to sleep straight away, have something relaxing to do by the bed to lull your mind back into a sleepy state. Examples like reading and meditation are good ideas. Work, TV and turning on the lights are usually bad ideas.
  7. If you can’t sleep because your to-do list keeps popping into your head, keep a pen and paper next to the bed. Often just writing these things down is enough to keep them from stressing you out.
Photo by Chris Thompson on Unsplash
This is just a basic rundown of good sleep hygiene. If none of this is helping, you NEED to include professional help. I cannot over-stress how important sleep is – if you are not getting it, you need to do everything in your power to rectify the situation. Here are some sleep clinics in the W. Cape.

Thank you for reading.


CORN FRITTERS

This recipe comes from a Recipe Book I was given by someone whose house I sold in Kenilworth many years ago.  She sent it to me via a friend as she had left the country.  She wrote it and it was such a special gift.  Many of the photographs in the book were taken in the house I sold. Her name is Wilma Howells.

This recipe I have made so many times.  The mixture freezes well.  I have made it with gluten free flour when I have had “gluten free” guests.  For tea or starters they are always a hit!

CORN FRITTERS

INGREDIENTS:
1 ¼ cups self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp sugar
2 eggs
½ cup milk
1 can (340gms) whole kernel corn, drained and slightly crushed
¼ cup chives
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 round feta cheese, crumbled
Oil for frying

METHOD:
Mix dry ingredients.
Beat the eggs and milk and add the rest of the ingredients. 
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the corn mixture.
Mix to a thick batter. 
Fry teaspoonful’s of batter in hot oil ( or larger spoons for bigger fritters) and serve with bowls of chutney and sweet chilli sauce. 
You can serve the Fritters warm or at room temperature.