It is important to note that although the Rental Housing Tribunal has helped thousands of landlords and tenants resolve issues pertaining to rental properties, the service is not available throughout South Africa and, at this stage, there are no tribunal offices in Free State.
Another point worth noting is that while one may assume that the same legislation applies to all, the various provinces do have different regulations. In other words, while it may be law in some provinces to give a tenant two months' notice of a proposed rent increase, it doesn't automatically mean that this is applicable across the entire country.
The easiest way to ascertain whether or not you have the right to lodge a grievance against a landlord or tenant is to contact your local branch of the Rental Housing Tribunal directly. At this stage it is a relatively simple process and once contacted, the Tribunal will email or fax the necessary documentation directly to the complainant for completion.
Plans are also being mooted for a system whereby parties can lodge a complaint online.
The services of all Rental Housing Tribunals are free.
If the matter proceeds to arbitration, the ruling has the same power as does a magistrate's court ruling. Those who want legal representation are fully entitled to retain a lawyer, providing that they pay for that service themselves. The Tribunal has a maximum of 90 days to resolve a complaint.
Any landlord or tenant may lodge a complaint with the Tribunal against unfair practice. Practices deemed to be unfair include:
- The changing of locks
- Not refunding deposits
- Damage to property
- Demolitions and conversions
- Forced entry and obstruction of entry
- Overcrowding and health matters
- Tenant activities
The Tribunal doesn't only protect landlords and tenants in formal dwellings and its powers extend to those who live in or lease out, hostel rooms, huts, shacks, outbuildings or similar structures as well as storerooms, garages or demarcated parking spaces that form part of the lease agreement. The Rental Housing Tribunal does however not deal with commercial properties.
To find the office nearest to you, simply type "rental housing tribunal" into your browser.