The KwaZulu-Natal Rental Housing Tribunal is an independent statutory body established by the MEC, in terms of section 7 of the Rental Housing Act (Act no 50 of 1999), to resolve disputes between tenants and landlords arising out of unfair practices.
The primary function of the tribunal is to promote stability in the rental housing sector by resolving disputes that arise between tenants and landlords in residential dwellings (flats, privately owned houses, shacks, communes, backyard rooms/outbuildings, etc).
The services of the rental housing tribunal are available throughout the province, at no cost to the disputing parties and there is no need to involve attorneys. The Tribunal is tasked with responsibilities to educate, provide information and advice tenants and landlords with regards to their rights and obligations.
The jurisdiction of the Tribunal extends to all residential properties throughout KwaZulu-Natal, which include: Flats, backyard rooms, shacks, privately owned houses, huts, apartments, storeroom and outbuildings or a garage.
Once there is a relationship between tenant and landlord, regardless of the material with which the structure is or the type of a dwelling, the Rental Housing Tribunal will regulate and resolve disputes that arises, in order to build good relationship between tenant and landlord
Powers and Functions of the Tribunal
In terms of the Rental Housing Act (Act No. 50 of 1999) and the Regulations thereof, the Rental Housing Tribunal is vested with rights and obligations to.
- Receive complaints lodged by either Tenants or Landlords
- Conduct Mediation or Hearings to resolve disputes between Tenants and Landlords.
- Rule that any person must comply with a provision of the regulations relating to unfair practices.
- Refer a matter for an investigation to the relevant competent body or local authority where it would appear that the provisions of any law have been or are being contravened.
- Make any ruling that is just and fair to terminate any unfair practice, including, without detracting from the generality of the aforegoing, a ruling to discontinue-
- unacceptable living conditions
- exploitative rentals
- lack of maintenance
Services Provided by the Rental Housing Tribunal
- Receipt and investigation of complaints
- Resolution of disputes through mediation or hearing
- Education Programmes to Tenants and Landlords with regards to their rights and obligations
- Provision of advice and information with regard to lease agreements
Unfair Practice refers to any act or omission by a landlord or tenant in contravention of this Act or a practice prescribed as practice unreasonably prejudicing the rights or interests of a Tenants or Landlord. May, amongst other things, relate to-
- The changing of locks
- Non-Payment of Rental
- Damage to property
- Demolitions and conversions
- Forced entry and obstruction of entry
- House rules, subject to the provisions of the Sectional Titles Act, 1986 (Act No. 95 of 1986), where applicable
- Issuing of receipts
- Tenants committees
- Municipal services
- Overcrowding and health matters
- Tenant activities
- Reconstruction and refurbishment work
Who May Lodge a Complaint?
Tenants, Landlords, Institutions, Bodies Corporate, Tenant’s Associations and Property Managing Agents who either reside, manage or own such Residential Rental Property within the KwaZulu-Natal Province.
How is a Complaint Lodged?
Complaint lodged with the Tribunal must be in writing on the prescribed Tribunal Complaint Form. Complaint may be lodged as follows-
- By mail to the offices of the Tribunal
- At the relevant Information Office within the jurisdiction of the local authority in which the dwelling is situated
- At the offices of the Tribunal
- A complaint is deemed to be lodged on the date upon which the Tribunal receives the complaint.
The Tenants rights against the Landlord include his or her right not to have:
- His or her person or home searched
- His or her property searched
- His or her possessions seized, except in terms of law of genres application and having first obtained an order of court; or
- The privacy of his or her communications infringed
The Landlord’s rights as against the Tenant include his or her right to:
- Prompt and regular payment of a rental or any charges that may be payable in terms of lease.
- Recover unpaid rental or any other amount that is due and payable after obtaining a ruling by the Tribunal or an order of a court of law.
- Terminate the lease in respect of rental housing property on the grounds that do not constitute an unfair practice and are specified in the lease.
- On termination of the lease to :-
- Receive the rental housing property in a good state of repair, save for fair wear and tear; and repossess rental housing property having first obtained an order of court; and
- Claim compensation for damages to the rental housing property or any other improvements on the land on which the dwelling is situated, if any, caused by the tenant, a member of the tenant’s household or a visitor of the tenant.
In terms of section 13 a ruling made by the Tribunal is deemed to be an order of the magistrates court in terms of the Magistrate Act 32 0f 1944, where a Tribunal at the end of a hearing in terms of section 13(2)(d) is of the view that an unfair practice exists it may rule that:
- any person must comply with a provision of the regulations relating to unfair practice:
- where it would appear that the provision of any law have been or being contravened, refer such matter for an investigation to the relevant competent body or local authority:
- make any other ruling that is just and fair to terminate any unfair practice. Including, without detracting from the generality of the aforegoing, a ruling to discontinue
(ii) unacceptable living conditions;
(iii) exploitative rentals; or
(iv) lack of maintenance.
A ruling contemplated in subsection (4) may include a determination regarding the amount of rental payable by tenant, but such determination must be made in a manner that is just and equitable to both tenant and landlord and take due cognizance of:
- prevailing economic conditions of supply and demand;
- the need for a realistic return on investment for investors in rental housing: and
- incentive, mechanisms, norms and standards and other measures introduced by the Minister in terms of the policy framework on rental housing referred to in section 2(3).
The Rental Housing Tribunal as Against Magistrate Courts
The benefits of using the services of the Rental Housing Tribunal as opposed to the magistrates courts are as follows:
- Free Service (no money needs to be paid)
- Provide speedy resolution to complaints (must be resolve within 3 months)
- Simplified procedure
- No need to involve attorneys
- Accessibly throughout the province
- Complaints may be lodged by: mail, fax,, or through an information office established in the municipality
Information Offices in Local Municipalities
Section 14 of the Rental Housing Act no 50 of 1999 provides as follows:
(14. (1)) A local authority may establish a Rental Housing Information Office to advise tenant and landlords in regards to their rights and obligations in relation to dwellings within the area of such local authority in area of jurisdiction.
(2) A local authority may subject to the laws governing the appointment of local government officials appoint officials to carry out any duties pertaining to such Rental Housing Information Office.
(3) The functions of the Rental Housing Information Office are to–
(a) educate, provide information and advise tenants and landlords with area of jurisdiction;
(b) provide advice to disputing parties on reaching solutions to problems relating to dwellings;
(c) refer parties to the Tribunal;
(d) comply with any request of the Tribunal in terms of section 13: and
(e) keep records enquiries received by the office and to submit reports in relation thereto the Tribunal on a quarterly basis.
41 out of 44 local municipalities have established Rental housing information offices, and these are :
|UTHUKELA DISTRICT||UMZINYATHI DISTRICT||AMAJUBA DISTRICT||ZULULAND DISTRICT|
|Alfred Duma||Endumeni||Newcastle Municipality||Abaqulusi|
|UMKHANYAKUDE DISTRICT||KING CETSHWAYO DISTRICT||ILEMBE DISTRICT||UGU DISTRICT|
|Big 5 Hlabisa||City of Mhlathuze||KwaDukuza||uMdoni|
|HARRY GWALA DISTRICT||UMGUNGUNDLOVU DISTRICT|
|Physical Address||9th floor Eagle Building (Murchies Passage)
353-363 Dr. Pixley Ka Seme Street
|Postal Address||Private Bag X 54328 Durban 4000|
|Tel. Numbers||031 372 1808 /06/04/03/00|