The long anticipated Rental Housing Amendment bill was published last month and we now await the formal signing thereof by the president.
When this bill becomes the new act, it will have far-reaching consequences for the rental market.
Some of these are:
- . It will be mandatory to establish a Rental Housing Tribunal (RHT) in each province. More importantly, there will have to be a Housing Information office in each municipality. These offices will be responsible for advising tenants and landlords on their rights and obligations in terms of rental agreements
- . There will also be appeal and review proceedings in terms of the new bill, that will make it far easier for the parties to sort out all disputes in regard to rental matters.
- . Certain minimum standards will apply, such as:
- All lease agreements will have to be in writing
- The deposit, with interest, will have to be repaid to the tenant within 7 days after the expiry of the lease
- The deposit will have to be kept in an interest bearing account, and that interest will be for the account of the tenant
- The landlord and tenant will have to jointly inspect the property for damages and defects BEFORE occupation and again, at least 3 days prior to the expiry of the agreement.
The objective of the Rental Housing Tribunal (RHT) will mainly be: To prohibit "unfair practice". To execute this, the RHT will have certain powers in terms of the new act (section 13(4)):
* To compel parties to comply with regulations in regard to unfair practices
* Refer any contravention of any law for further investigation
* Make any ruling that is just and fair to terminate such unfair practices.
It is interesting to look at the outcome of the case: MAPHANGO & OTHERS v AENGUS LIFESTYLE PROPERTIES. In this matter the Constitutional court issued a stern warning to landlords who take the law into their own hands, and who does not adhere to the rulings of the RHT.
It is clear from this case that the RHT will be the judicial first resort when disputes arise in a lease agreement. The RHT will be given greater responsibility, but also greater authority and will become a thorn in the side for landlords / tenants who do not stick to the rules.
*(From the Property Law Digest – June 2014 – A September)
As stated in the beginning, the bill has not been accepted (promulgated) yet, and we will keep you posted as soon as this happens.
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