SA Affordable Housing November / December 2021 - Page 6

NEWS

The ABCs of the Rental Housing Act & Rental Housing Tribunal for SA landlords

By Pearl Scheltema
If you are a landlord , property owner and property investor who rents out their home / s , you may have heard of 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 always date with the latest South African legislation .

Therefore , 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 .
According to Pearl Scheltema , CEO of Fitzanne Estates , it is very important that anyone who rents out a property in any way has to take heed of the RHA .
“ 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 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 ,
PEARL SCHELTEMA
Pearl Scheltema .
as well as experience in the legal and consumer sectors ,” explains Adriaanse .
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 Adriaanse .
4 NOVEMBER - DECEMBER 2021 SAAffordHousing saaffordablehousingmag SA Affordable Housing www . saaffordablehousing . co . za