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The Rental Housing Tribunal (RHT) is a decision-making body comprising of five members appointed by Government, who each have expertise in housing. These members are independent and do not work for the housing department.
Settling disputes at the RHT is a free process that does not require a lawyer and is usually quicker than going to court.
Sometimes disputes between tenants and landlords cannot be resolved through meaningful engagement. In such cases the RHT investigates and tries to resolve the issues. Having your dispute heard is free and does not require a lawyer, although you can have one present if you want. A decision by the RHT carries the same weight as a court order, but the process is usually quicker.
Anyone can contact or approach the RHT at any time for enquiries or general information regarding their rights and duties as a tenant or landlord. Once you have decided what category your complaint falls under and filled out the relevant forms, you should visit their offices to submit your complaint in person and ask any questions you may have about the process.
Use the list of Tribunal Complaints to check if your complaint is valid. If you are unsure about whether you have a valid complaint, submit it anyway. The Tribunal will tell you if it is valid or not.
When making a complaint, you must always fill in the Main Complaint form. That form must then be accompanied by the specific complaint form or forms related to your problem. You can make multiple complaints.
You should have three copies of all important documents. Two for the RHT and one for you (you keep the originals).
Complaint forms, as well as any other relevant supporting documentation, need to be submitted, in person, to the Rental Housing Tribunal.
After Tribunal staff receive your complaint they open a case file and give it a case reference number. Use this number to track your complaint. About two weeks after you submitted your complaint, both you and your landlord should receive a letter from the Tribunal saying that your complaint has been received, and it should include your case reference number.
Around the same time as you receive your letter you may get a phone call from a Tribunal staff member. If they call, ask them for their name and for your case reference number. If you have not yet received your letter, ask if they have sent it and ask for the contact details of the case officer assigned to your matter. If you do not hear anything after two weeks - no letter or phone call - you should call the Rental Housing Tribunal to follow-up. Keep following up regularly!
Once the case has been opened, Tribunal staff check whether your complaint qualifies as an unfair practice. This check is called a preliminary investigation. If they need more details, they can ask you and your landlord for more information to help them understand the complaint. Tribunal staff can also get an inspector to inspect the property. If you think it is necessary you must ask that they come and do an inspection.
After the investigation, the Tribunal staff decide whether or not the complaint qualifies as an unfair practice. After you submit the complaint, they have 30 days to make a decision. If they do not think your complaint involves an unfair practice, they must send you a letter that gives reasons for their decision. If the Tribunal staff think that an unfair practice may be involved, they will continue to try solve the dispute.
A case officer is appointed to your case. This case officer is supposed to contact you and the landlord. The case officer might first try to resolve the matter by calling you and your landlord to discuss and find a solution that suits both parties. If the matter cannot be resolved then the case officer will decide whether the dispute can be resolved through mediation , or whether a tribunal hearing is required.
Mediation is a meeting where both sides try to come to an agreement with the help of a neutral person. In this case someone from the Tribunal.
If mediation fails then the case moves to a Tribunal Hearing. At a hearing both parties share their facts of the dispute to members of the Tribunal board and the board then makes a ruling based on these facts and the circumstances of the case.
The mediator listens to both parties and asks questions to help them come to an agreement. If you come to an agreement, you sign the agreement and both parties do what is agreed to. This mediated agreement is binding. It has the same power as a court order. If you do not come to an agreement, the next step is to have a hearing.
If you require a translator or have a disability, ask your case officer to arrange a translator or make special arrangements for your disability during your mediation or Tribunal hearing.
If mediation fails, you will be given a hearing date by your case officer. The hearing will be held at the Tribunal office.
In the hearing, each party is asked to share the facts of their case. At least three Tribunal members will be present at the hearing. They ask the parties questions, and may ask for documents to prove your case. It is not as formal as a court hearing, and you do not need to have lawyers or legal representation. However, in some cases it helps to have a lawyer.
After hearing both sides, the Tribunal members make a ruling. The ruling is communicated to the parties a few days after the Hearing. The ruling has the same power as a ruling by a Magistrates’ Court. If you or the landlord would like to challenge the decision, you have to go to the High Court as soon as possible.
If one of the parties is not happy with the decision reached by the Tribunal at the end of this process, they can have the decision reviewed by the High Court. You will need a lawyer for this.
If you feel that your complaint has not been dealt with correctly or they closed your case incorrectly, you can report this to Nathan Adriaanse, the Director of Communication and Stakeholder Relations at the Department of Human Settlements. You can also report staff who treat you disrespectfully or unfairly.
Identify all the forms that are relevant to any issues you are having with your landlord. Download the appropriate form or ask for them at the Tribunal office. For example, if you are making a complaint about a rent increase that is too high then you ask for the Main Complaint Form and Form C.
You must always fill in the Main Complaint form. That form must then be accompanied by the specific complaint forms related to your situation.
If your issue is listed below, you have grounds to make a complaint at the Tribunal.
This form must be completed and submitted together with any specific complaint forms.
Your landlord has not returned your deposit after you’ve left the property.
You received an unlawful notice to vacate from your landlord.
Your landlord has increased the rent more than usual or by an unaffordably high amount.
Your landlord doesn’t accept that you have decided to leave after giving them your notice and wants you to stay and keep paying rent.
Your landlord has failed to provide municipal services (e.g. water, refuse and sewerage.)
If the tenant has not paid for municipal services, your landlord can make a complaint against you using this form.
Your landlord is failing to do proper and required maintenance on your home.
Your landlord has unlawfully evicted you or changed the locks so you can’t get into the house.
Your landlord has made changes to the lease without your agreement or consent.
Your landlord comes into your home without proper notice, or when you are not at home.
Your landlord takes your things from the property or takes things from the property that belong to him but you have a right to use.
Your landlord refuses to provide you with monthly statements or receipts for payment of rental after you have asked for them.
Your landlord refuses to give you a copy of the lease.
You have a verbal lease your landlord has a duty to turn it in to a written lease if you ask them.
You think your current rental amount is too high and unfair you can ask for it to be reduced.
You have any other dispute that is not on this list but you think it is important.
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