Tips to help you resolve a rental dispute with your landlord

Tips to help you resolve a rental dispute with your landlord

Disputes between landlords and tenants are inevitable. 

When they do happen, it can be tricky to know how to resolve them. In most cases, some disputes can be resolved between the landlord and the tenant. For example, if you have a rental argument with your landlord, you can negotiate a solution that works for both of you. 

But some disputes can escalate to a point where you and your landlord cannot find a solution together. For example, not giving notice to your landlord ahead of time before you move out, even though this may be stipulated in your lease agreement. Or, your landlord doesn’t give you back your deposit despite not causing any damage to the property. 

If you currently have a rental dispute situation in your hands, keep on reading. 

As the leading Johannesburg social housing company, we care about tenants and want to help resolve any disputes with their landlords. That’s why we have put together a guide on what to do and where to go for help when you have a dispute with your landlord.

Read your lease agreement

This may sound silly, but as a tenant, you can sometimes forget what you had agreed to when you signed the lease agreement. Read it again to discover whether you’re in the wrong and whether you can simply apologise to your landlord and negotiate a solution. It may be difficult to lay a complaint, only to learn that you’re wrong and could have found a solution between you and your landlord.

Learn your rights

If you realise that the rental dispute between you and your landlord is too big to be resolved, familiarise yourself with your rights. This will prepare you for the next step.

Lay a complaint with the Rental Housing Tribunal

The next step is to lay a complaint with the Rental Housing Tribunal. This is a body that was established to resolve tenant and landlord disputes through a mediation process. It’s a free service that’s available and accessible to everyone who needs it. The Tribunal is set up in terms of the Rental Housing Act 1999 No.50 and states that “any tenant or landlord or group of tenants or in the prescribed manner lodge a complaint with the Tribunal concerning an unfair practice.”

According to the act, unfair practises that the Tribunal deals with include, among others: 

  • Rental deposit disputes.
  • Changing of locks.
  • Forced entry and obstruction of entry.
  • Damage to property.
  • Demolitions and conversions.
  • Eviction.
  • House rules
  • Issuing maintenance receipts.
  • Utility services.

Once you lay a complaint with the Tribunal, they will appoint a mediator who will perform preliminary investigations to determine whether an unfair practice has taken place. After the investigation, all parties involved will receive a letter from the Tribunal. Depending on the findings, the Tribunal may decide that a solution can be resolved through mediation. 

If mediation cannot resolve the issue, there will be a formal hearing set up for all parties to attend and participate in. For the hearing, you can attend with a representative of your choosing. If you’re unhappy with the final findings, you can ask for a review, which takes place before the High Court within your Tribunal’s area of jurisdiction. 

How to lay a complaint at the Tribunal

Laying a complaint at the Tribunal is as easy as filling out a form that they will provide you. You’re also required to attach supporting documents with yours and your landlord’s details such as copies of an identity document, lease or agreement, proof of payment, and contact details. Make sure to ask about these when you collect the form.

Final thoughts

The Rental Housing Tribunal acts as the rental ombudsman in South Africa, which is set up to resolve any landlord and tenant disputes as stated above. When you find yourself in a corner with your landlord, reach out to the Tribunal, and they will be able to assist. And, if you’re on the search for flats to rent in Johannesburg, contact Johannesburg Housing Company. We can help you find a rental home that won’t cause you any headaches.