DA concern as Rental Housing Act amendments bypass NCOP and KZN Traditional leaders

George Mari, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Human Settlements

Since the promulgation of the Rental Housing Act there have been some serious problems between landlords and tenants, with illegal evictions, lockouts, no written lease agreements.

Receipts have also not been issued for rentals paid and there have also been many verbal lease agreements made between landlords and tenants.

Landlords have also faced problems with defaulting tenants using courts of law to delay evictions using the Pie Act which is largely regarded as favouring tenants.

Tenants also did not attend rental tribunal meetings and the decisions of the tribunals could not be challenged as there was no appeals process.

The Amendments to the Rental Housing Bill address some of these shortfalls.

The Act now provides for;

  • Compulsory lease agreements in writing, setting out rights and obligations of both landlord and tenant
  • Receipts must be issued for payment of rentals
  • The MEC to establish rental tribunals in all municipalities to deals with disputes and give advice
  • An appeals process where decisions of the tribunals can be rescinded.  This caters for decisions taken against a particular party that could not attend the tribunal hearing
  • Extends the powers and number of members on the tribunals so that two can sit simultaneously to catch up on the backlog and make urgent decisions
  • Requires all municipalities to have rental housing information offices
  • Clarifies the responsibility of government in that it makes it obligatory for each province to establish a fully operational rental housing tribunal and rental housing information Office.
  • Deposits paid to landlords must be held in an interest bearing account refundable on termination of a Lease.

These are all major improvements.  But the DA has serious concerns over the fact that the Amendments have not been referred to the National or Provincial House of Traditional Leaders, as advised by the State Law Advisors.

The question then becomes – what happens to tenants holding PTO’s who are occupying land under the Traditional Leadership and land under the Ingonyama Trust?

Do they too have the Protection of the Act and its Amendments?

The DA expects the MEC to clarify this.