The Rental Housing Tribunal
When a party to an agreement (either verbal or written) breaks the lease agreement or a lease term appears to be unjust, the innocent party can approach the Rental Housing Tribunal to lodge a complaint of an unfair practice. Each province has a Tribunal established under the Rental Housing Act 50 of 1999 (RHA) to resolve disputes between the parties.
The Tribunal is an independent dispute resolution forum whose members or commissioners are appointed by the member of the executive committee in the provincial legislature in charge of human settlements.
The RHA, together with the draft Procedural and Unfair Practice Regulations, 2008 under Government Gazette 30863 (draft regulations) state what the:
- unfair practices are;
- landlord and tenant must do;
- landlord and tenant cannot do; and
- consequences would be if they “violate” each other’s rights or fail to carry out their duties.
Persons who may lodge Complaints
All Landlord’s or Tenants residing in the jurisdiction of the Rental Housing Tribunal (Tribunal), may lodge a written complaint with the relevant Tribunal concerning an unfair practice. The complaint is to be lodged in the prescribed manner, generally done on the prescribed form by the Tribunal. Most Tribunals have specific forms for each province.
Unfair practices are practices described as unreasonably prejudicing the rights or interests of a Tenant or a Landlord. Unfair practices may relate to (among others):
- the changing of locks
- disconnecting electricity
- municipal services
- damage to property
- demolitions and conversions
- overcrowding and health matters
- forced entry and obstruction of entry
- issuing spoliation and attachment orders
- issuing of receipts
- grant interdicts
Lodging a complaint and process
A complaint may be lodged by the Complainant personally at the office of the Tribunal or by email to the office of the Tribunal.
Due to Covid-19, most Tribunals and Commissions prefer electronic receipt of complaints, so it is best to contact your Tribunal before attending their premises physically.
Complaints must be lodged on the complaint form prescribed obtainable from the offices of the Rental Housing Tribunal. Below are 6 stages involved in lodging a complaint:
A complaint is registered.
Letters are issued to both parties.
The Rental Housing Tribunal will conduct a preliminary investigation to determine whether the complaint relates to a dispute in respect of a matter which may constitute an unfair practice.
Mediation is scheduled to try and resolve the matter, if there is no agreement between the parties during the mediation proceeding then the matter is referred to the Tribunal hearing which is called the Arbitration stage.
During the arbitration (Tribunal hearing), a ruling is given which is binding to both parties.
A ruling by the Tribunal is deemed to be an order of a magistrate’s court in terms of the Magistrates’ Court Act 32 of 1944 and is enforced in terms of that Act.
Review of the Tribunal Proceedings
If a person feels dissatisfied with the proceedings of the tribunal, he/she can take the matter for review before the High Court within its area of jurisdiction. The procedure to be followed and requirements for this are in terms of section 17 of the RHA.
As from the date of any complaint having been lodged with the Tribunal, until the Tribunal has made its ruling on the matter, the case should not take more than three months to be resolved.
Required documentation when lodging a complaint
- ID / Permit / Passport
- Lease Agreement
- Proof of payment
- Physical address of both parties (landlord and tenant), and proof thereof
- Electricity metre readings, if any
- Proof of all complaints made to the landlord
- Contact telephone numbers of the complainant and the Respondent
Offences and Penalties
Any person who FAILS to comply without sufficient cause to:
- To attend at the time and place specified in the summons, or
- To remain in attendance until excused by the Tribunal from further attendance, or
- Who refuses to be sworn or to make an affirmation as a witness, or
- To answer fully and satisfactorily any question lawfully put to any such person, or
- Who produces before the Tribunal, any false, untrue, fabricated or falsified book or document, or
- Wilfully furnishes the Tribunal with information, or makes a statement before the Tribunal, which is false or misleading, or
- Fails to comply with any ruling of the Tribunal, or
- Fails to comply with a request of the Tribunal, or
- Contravenes any regulation, will be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a FINE or IMPRISONMENT not exceeding two years or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
This article is not intended to provide legal advice. This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. This article is based on research regarding laws and may be subject to change. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE).
For further information, please contact Rajaram Mvulane Attorneys at email@example.com
This article was written by Arisha Rajaram, who is an admitted attorney. Arisha is an experienced content creator and editor. Arisha Rajaram is a hardworking, dedicated and diligent worker. Arisha has obtained an advanced course in Business Rescue from the Law Society of South Africa (LEAD) and UNISA and has completed short courses on the Forms of Business Enterprises (Law Society of South Africa – LEAD), Sectional Title Practices (Paddocks) and Insolvency Law (Law Society of South Africa – LEAD).
She has since gained exposure and experience in both the legal sector and in the corporate sector. Arisha has focused her attention on Litigation matters, including Civil and Criminal Litigation, and has a broad experience on all ancillary matters which fall within.
Arisha has experience on property disputes, including landlord and tenant disputes; commercial and residential evictions and other property related matters.