The ABC’s of the Rental Housing Act & Rental Housing Tribunal
If you are a landlord, property owner and property investor who rents out their home/s, you may have heard about the Rental Housing Act, and Rental Housing Tribunal. There’s a lot to keep track of when you have tenants in a space you own or manage, and it can be tricky to stay up to date with the latest South African legislation at all times.
This is why we’re going to break down the gist of what you need to know about the Act and the tribunal in this article.
What exactly is the Rental Housing Act?
The Rental Housing Act (RHA) is an important piece of official government legislation that aims to lay down general principles governing conflict resolution in the rental housing sector. It also provides for the facilitation of sound relations between tenants and landlords and lays out general requirements relating to leases.
“Residential property law is very nuanced and closely regulated. The RHA is one of several legislative acts that affect the industry. While you can protect yourself through legally correct, well-drafted contracts and documents there can still be major consequences if you don’t follow the law,” she explains. “ This includes fines, penalties, loss of court cases, loss of damages claims, failed evictions, spoliation applications, and more. In short, ignorance of the law, if you are a property owner/landlord is not an excuse for getting things wrong. There is a right way and a wrong way to do things and very little grey area in this regard.”
How does the Rental Housing Tribunal work?
While we all hope and dream of a seamless relationship between landlords and tenants, things can often become challenging when issues arise that cannot be overcome in an amicable way. This is when an independent party should be involved, and where the Rental Housing Tribunal (RHT) can be roped in.
According to Mr. Nathan Adriaanse, Director of Communication & Stakeholder Relations (Provincial Government of the Western Cape), the RHT is a service that is offered by the government through the Department of Human Settlements.
“It is a free service available to all South African citizens. The boards that sit at these tribunals are independent, and comprise members who have backgrounds in property, as well as experience in the legal and consumer sectors,” Mr. Adriaanse explains.
From an efficiency point of view, the director confirms that the tribunal in the Western Cape sits from Monday through to Friday and that their turnaround times in terms of mediating disputes, in accordance with the Act, strives to resolve any given matter within 90 days.
“We can also confirm that we see and assist both landlords and tenants. Our view is that the rights and obligations of both these parties must be protected. We also do ad hoc hearings. Depending in which municipal jurisdiction there are matters, we can take our tribunal out to the rural areas as well, if there are disputes that need to be heard in a rural district,” says Mr. Adriaanse.
For more information about the RHA, RHT, and how it affects you as a landlord, property owner, and property investor in sunny South Africa, feel free to reach out to the Fitzanne Estates team.