If you have a problem with your landlord or tenant, you should approach the Rental Housing Tribunal in your province prior to entering costly legal action.

Rental Housing Tribunals are independent bodies appointed by the Provincial Housing Minister to ensure stability in rental housing market and resolve disputes between landlords and tenants. These include problems with unfair practices such as the refunding of deposits, privacy, overcrowding, exploitative rentals, maintenance and repairs and illegal lockout or disconnection of services or other tenant delinquencies.

Offices comprise three to five member who have expertise in housing management, housing development, and consumer matters relating to rental housing.

The tribunals have the authority to arrange mediations or to subpoena parties to a hearing. Rulings by the tribunal are deemed to be judgments of a magistrate's court. Rental Housing Tribunals operate on a provincial basis, generally falling under the Human Settlements department.

Green property lineBASIC INFORMATION

The tribunal seeks to:
  • Harmonise relationships between landlords and tenants in the rental housing sector.
  • Resolve disputes that arise due to unfair practices.
  • Inform landlords and tenants about their rights and obligations in terms of the Rental Housing Act.
  • Make recommendations to relevant stakeholders.
Its objectives are:
  • To promote stability in the rental housing sector in the relevant province.
  • To create mechanisms to deal with disputes in the rental housing sector.
  • To facilitate, investigate, mediate and conduct hearings to resolve disputes.
  • To inform landlords and tenants of their rights and obligations should unfair and unlawful practices arise.
Other types of disputes dealt with by the tribunal include:
  • Failure to adequately maintain the rental property.
  • Unlawful repossession of property and unlawful evictions.
  • Failure to accept notice and to vacate the premises.
  • Unlawful notices to vacate.
  • Unilateral changes to lease agreements.
  • Failure to provide monthly statements or issue receipts.
  • Unlawful seizure of possessions.
  • Failure to provide municipal services.
Green property lineCOMPLAINT PROCESSES

There are processes which are followed when a complaint is lodged and any tenant or landlord or group of tenants or landlords or interest group lodge complaints to the Rental Housing Tribunal. There are steps followed when lodging a complaint and they are as follows:
  • Complaints are lodged within the Tribunal's office
  • The Tribunal will conduct a preliminary investigation to determine whether the complaint constitute an unfair practice.
  • An  inspector may inspect the property concerned and compile a report if necessary
  • If the complaint does not relate to such a dispute, the complainant will be notified in writing
  • Informal/formal mediate.
  • Formal hearing.
Green property lineGENERAL COMMENTS

It’s best to know the facts before entering into a legally binding agreement, so that when disputes arise they can be successfully mediated and, if necessary, go to the Tribunal Court for final arbitration. Most importantly, insist on valid copies of all documentation and retain any receipts pertaining to the rental agreement.
All parties involved in the South African rental industry have access to Provincial Rental Housing Tribunals, previously known as the Rent Board, which is administered by provincial governments. The RHT’s primary function is one of mediating to resolve disputes between tenants and landlords, a much less costly alternative to private legal assistance.

On the whole, both tenants and landlords are protected by the law, including the Rental Housing Act, the Prevention of Illegal Eviction Act, the New Consumer Protection Act, and the Companies’ Act of 2011. Most common are problems arising from the incorrect interpretation, or incorrect application of the law. This usually occurs as the result of tenants either having a limited understanding of their rights, of not fully comprehending the consequences of breaching contractual agreements, or of incompetent or unscrupulous behavior on the part of landlords.
For these purposes the RHTs provide information regarding agreements, legal rights, deposits and refunds, rental property inspections, forced removals, maintenance, damages, claims, as well as the dispute resolution and arbitration process. Guidance is available on how to report cases to the closest RHT office, followed by written correspondence to relevant parties, providing dates, times and places for mediation.

Respondents can file counter claims against complainants which may lead to mediation in finding a solution, or follow the process to the next step of arbitration in the Tribunal Court. During hearings, parties or authorised representatives may present cases, put forward any relevant evidence, and cross examine each other, while tribunal members may question other parties. An inspection report regarding the state of the dwelling may also be discussed dependent on the type of dispute.

An adjournment of the tribunal provides for the examination of evidence rulings, which are usually issued on the same day.

Green property lineCONTACT DETAILS

The Eastern Cape Housing Tribunal can be contacted during office hours at these numbers: 043 711 95 63/9622/9623/9624/9625 or fax 043 711 97 97/986.

At date of updating this page, the Tribunal had still not entered the 21 century and no Email addresses were available.

Other provinces contact information will be added shortly once confirmed details received.

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