What type of complaints may be lodged with the Rental Housing Tribunal (“Tribunal”)?
- A complaint may be lodged by the tenant or the landlord of a dwelling (for example, a house, room or flat) concerning the following examples of unfair practices:
- Unacceptable living conditions, such as overcrowding or hygienic issues.
- Insufficient maintenance or repairs of a dwelling.
- Not paying rent to the landlord.
- Asking an excessive amount of rent.
- Not refunding the deposit of the tenant.
- Damage to 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 receipts, in respect of payments made, to the tenant.
- Discrimination by the landlord of the tenant on ground of race, sex and so on.
What are the functions of the Tribunal?
- Receives and investigates complaints of landlords or tenants of dwellings.
- Resolves disputes between landlords and tenants through mediation and arbitration.
- Gives advice and provides education to landlord 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.
- The completed forms together with the documents in support of the complaint may be lodged with the Tribunal in person, by post, by fax or by e-mail.
- The documents in support of the claim may include: copies of the landlord/tenant’s identity document; written lease agreement, or the terms and conditions 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 be resolved. After a complaint has been lodged with the Tribunal, until the date of the 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 dwelling.
What will the Tribunal do?
- 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 has been concluded, such an 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, where the landlord and tenant will be summoned to appear at the Tribunal at a certain date and time.
- Decide on a just and fair ruling, which is binding on both the tenant and the landlord. A ruling is deemed to be an order of the Magistrate’s Court. A ruling of the Tribunal may be taken on review to the High Court.
- Should the landlord or tenant fail to comply with a request or a ruling of the Tribunal s/he may be convicted of an offence and sentenced to make payment of a fine, to imprisonment or both payment of a fine and imprisonment.
Can a landlord go to court instead of using the Tribunal?
- Yes, to claim arrear rent or eviction, but only if there is no dispute about an unfair practice. The court may refer an unfair practice dispute back to the Tribunal.
Glossary of terms:
DWELLING: property a person can live in, for example, a house, room, flat, garage or similar structure used for housing purposes.
EVICTION: an order obtained from court by the landlord forcing the tenant to vacate the dwelling.
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.
RENTAL HOUSING TRIBUNAL: an independent body resolving disputes between landlords and tenants of dwellings for housing purposes.
SUMMONED: notified in writing to appear at the Tribunal on a certain date and time.
TENANT: a person renting a dwelling from a landlord, and is also referred to as a lessee.
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