What type of complaints may be lodged with the Rental Housing Tribunal (“Tribunal”)?
- A complaint about unfair practice may be lodged by a tenant or a landlord of a property (for example, a house, room or flat), for example:
- Unacceptable living conditions, such as overcrowding or hygienic issues.
- Insufficient maintenance or repairs of a property.
- Not paying rent to the landlord.
- Asking an excessive amount of rent.
- Not refunding a deposit of the tenant.
- Damage to a property (for example, a door of the landlord or a table of the tenant).
- Eviction without a court order.
- Disconnection of services (such as electricity) without a court order.
- Non-compliance with the Rental Housing Act.
- Not issuing a receipt to a tenant in respect of payment made.
- Discrimination by a landlord on ground of race, sex and so on, of a tenant.
What are the functions of the Tribunal?
- Receives from and investigates complaints of landlords or tenants.
- Resolves disputes between landlords and tenants through mediation and arbitration.
- Gives advice and provides education to landlords and tenants about their rights and obligations.
- The Tribunal’s services are free.
How can a complaint be lodged at the Tribunal?
- Complete the prescribed forms available from the Tribunal.
- Lodge the completed forms together with the documents in support of the complaint with the Tribunal. This may be done in person, by post, by fax or by e-mail.
- The documents in support of the claim may include: copies of the landlord or tenant’s identity document; written lease agreement, or the terms of the verbal lease agreement; proof of payment, if any; addresses of the tenant and the landlord; and contact details of the tenant and the landlord.
- A complaint may take three months to resolve. After a complaint has been lodged with the Tribunal, until the date of the Tribunal’s ruling the:
- landlord may not evict the tenant;
- tenant must continue to pay the rent; and
- landlord must continue to maintain and/or repair the property.
What happens after a complaint has been lodged with the Tribunal?
- The Tribunal will:
- Investigate the complaint to establish whether there is a dispute between the landlord and tenant.
- Try to resolve the dispute through mediation; the landlord and the tenant will be notified in writing of the mediation date and time. Where a mediation agreement was concluded, such mediation agreement must be made a ruling of the Tribunal. If the dispute cannot be resolved through mediation, it should be referred to arbitration (also referred to as a hearing).
- Conduct an arbitration hearing; the landlord and tenant will be summoned to appear at the Tribunal on a certain date and time.
- Decide on a just and fair ruling. The ruling of the Tribunal is binding on both the tenant and the landlord.
- If the landlord or tenant fails to comply with a ruling of the Tribunal, s/he may be convicted of an offence and sentenced to pay a fine, be imprisoned, or both.
- A ruling of the Tribunal is deemed to be an order of the Magistrate’s Court and may be taken on review to the High Court.
Can a landlord go to court instead of using the Tribunal?
- Yes, a landlord can go to court in order to claim arrear rent, but only if there is no unfair practice present. The court may refer a dispute back to the Tribunal, if it finds evidence of unfair practice.
- A landlord can also go to court for an eviction order; the Tribunal cannot make an order to evict a tenant.
Glossary of terms:
EVICTION: an order obtained from court by the landlord forcing the tenant to vacate the property.
LANDLORD: the owner of the property or a person duly authorised by the owner of the property to be in charge of the property. The landlord may rent out a property to a tenant, and is also referred to as a lessor.
PROPERTY: a place a person lives in, for example, a house, room, flat, garage or similar structure used for housing purposes.
RENTAL HOUSING TRIBUNAL: an independent body that resolves disputes between landlords and tenants.
SUMMONED: written notification to appear in the Tribunal on a certain date and time.
TENANT: a person renting a property from a landlord, and is also referred to as a lessee.
How can LegalWise assist you?
Should you require an explanation of your rights on this topic, please contact your nearest Branch.
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