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Rental Housing Act, 1999 (Act No. 50 of 1999)

Chapter 4 Rental Housing Tribunal

13. Complaints



1) Any tenant or landlord or group of tenants or landlords or interest group may in the prescribed manner lodge a complaint with the Tribunal concerning an unfair practice.


2) Once a complaint has been lodged with the Tribunal, the Tribunal must, if it appears that there is a dispute in respect of a matter which may constitute an unfair practice-
a) list particulars of the dwelling to which the complaint refers in the register referred to in subsection (8);
b) through its staff conduct such preliminary investigations as may be necessary to determine whether the complaint relates to a dispute in respect of a matter which may constitute an unfair practice;
c) where the Tribunal is of the view that there is a dispute contemplated in paragraph (b) and that such dispute may be resolved through mediation, appoint a mediator, which may be a member of the Tribunal, a member of staff or any person deemed fit and proper by the Tribunal, with a view to resolving the dispute;
d) where the Tribunal is of the view that the dispute is of such a nature that it cannot be resolved through mediation or where a mediator contemplated in paragraph (c) has issued a certificate to the effect that the parties are unable to resolve the dispute through mediation, conduct a hearing and, subject to this section, make such a ruling as it may consider just and fair in the circumstances.


3) For purposes of a hearing contemplated in paragraph (d) of subsection (2), the Tribunal may-
a) require any Rental Housing Information Office to submit reports concerning inquiries and complaints received, as well as on any other matters concerning the administration of this Act within the area of jurisdiction of that office;
b) require any inspector to appear before the Tribunal to give evidence, to provide information, or to produce any report or other document concerning inspections conducted which may have a bearing on any complaint received by the Tribunal;
c) require any Rental Housing Information Office to advise the Tribunal on any matter concerning a dwelling or concerning a complaint received from any landlord or any tenant within the area of jurisdiction of that office;
d) summon any tenant or landlord or any other person who, in the Tribunal’s opinion may be able to give evidence relevant to a complaint, to appear before the Tribunal;
e) summon any person who may reasonably be able to give information of material importance concerning a complaint or who has in such person’s possession or custody or under such person’s control any book, document or object to attend its proceedings and to produce any book, document, or object in his or her possession or custody or under his or her control, to give evidence or to provide information under his or her control;
f) call upon and administer an oath to, or accept an affirmation from, any person present at the meeting in terms of paragraph (a), (b) or (c), or who has been summoned in terms of paragraph (d) or (e).


4) Where a Tribunal, at the conclusion of a hearing in terms of paragraph (d) of subsection (2) is of the view that an unfair practice exists, it may-
a) rule that any person must comply with a provision of this Act;
b) where it would appear that the provisions of any law have been or are being contravened, refer such matter for an investigation to the relevant competent body or local authority;
c) 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-
i) overcrowding;
ii) unacceptable living conditions; (iii) exploitative rentals; or
iii) lack of maintenance.


5) A ruling contemplated in subsection (4) may include a determination regarding the amount of rental payable by a tenant, but such determination must be made in a manner that is just and equitable to both tenant and landlord and takes due cognisance of-
a) prevailing economic conditions of supply and demand;
b) the need for a realistic return on investment for investors in rental housing; and
c) incentives, 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).


6) When acting in terms of subsection (4), the Tribunal must have regard to-
a) the regulations in respect of unfair practices;
b) the common law to the extent that any particular matter is not specifically addressed in the regulations or a lease;
c) the provisions of any lease to the extent that it does not constitute an unfair practice;
d) national housing policy and national housing programmes; and
e) the need to resolve matters in a practicable and equitable manner.


7) As from the date of any complaint having been lodged with the Tribunal, until the Tribunal has made a ruling on the matter or a period of three months has elapsed, whichever is the earlier-
a) the landlord may not evict any tenant, subject to paragraph (b);
b) the tenant must continue to pay the rental payable in respect of that dwelling as applicable prior to the complaint or, if there has been an escalation prior to such complaint, the amount payable immediately prior to such escalation; and
c) the landlord must effect necessary maintenance.


8) The Tribunal must keep a register of complaints received and complaints resolved with such details as may be prescribed and quarterly provide the local authority in whose jurisdictions dwellings are situated in respect of which complaints have been received with a list of complaints received and complaints resolved in such format as may be prescribed.


9) As from the date of the establishment of a Tribunal as contemplated in section 7, any dispute in respect of an unfair practice, must be determined by the Tribunal unless proceedings have already been instituted in any other court.


10) Nothing herein contained precludes any person from approaching a competent court for urgent relief under circumstances where he or she would have been able to do so were it not for this Act, or to institute proceedings for the normal recovery of arrear rental, or for eviction in the absence of a dispute regarding an unfair practice.


11) A magistrate’s court may, where proceedings before the court relate to a dispute regarding an unfair practice as contemplated in this Act, at any time refer such matter to the Tribunal.


12) The Tribunal may-
a) make a ruling as to costs as may be just and equitable;
b) where a mediation agreement has been concluded pursuant to section 13(2)(c), make such an agreement a ruling of the Tribunal; and
c) issue spoliation and attachment orders and grant interdicts.


13) A ruling by the Tribunal is deemed to be an order of a magistrate’s court in terms of the Magistrates’ Court Act, 1944 (Act No. 32 of 1944), and is enforced in terms of that Act.


14) The Tribunal does not have jurisdiction to hear applications for eviction orders.