09 July 2020 – Media Statement: Poor Flat Dwellers Association demand the re-opening of Rental Housing Tribunal offices in all provinces

Media Statement

09 July 2020

Poor Flat Dwellers Association demand the re-opening of Rental Housing Tribunal offices in all provinces

The Legal Resources Centre, instructed by the Poor Flat Dwellers Association, has sent a letter of demand to the Minister of Co-Operative Governance, the Department of Public Service and Administration, the Minister of Human Settlements, and the MEC for Human Settlements in all provinces, demanding the re-opening of all provincial Rental
Housing Tribunals.

The Rental Housing Tribunal was established in all provinces to resolve rental housing disputes and to protect tenants and landlords from unfair practices. Rental Housing Tribunals are empowered to intervene to ensure that unfair practices such as illegal evictions, lockouts, and interruptions to supplies of electricity and water are prevented and to take appropriate steps where these occur.

During the lockdown period, Rental Housing Tribunal offices around the country have remained closed. This is despite the Regulations promulgated by the Minister of Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs – as amended on 25 June 2020 – which state that during Lockdown Alert Level 3, public service institutions such as Rental
Housing Tribunals may operate. Therefore, as per the Regulations, Rental Housing Tribunals are required to re-open and should have been from 01 June 2020, yet they have remained inexplicably and steadfastly shut, resulting in the compromise of the rights of those that they were established to serve.

If the Tribunals continue to remain closed, it means that unscrupulous landlords may take advantage of tenants, many of whom rely on the protection and assistance provided by the Rental Housing Tribunal, to uphold and enforce their rights. The failure to respect, protect, promote and fulfill the rights of tenants is unconstitutional and unlawful and leaves vulnerable tenants open to possible rights abuses by their landlords, with no recourse other than approaching a court – a costly and often inaccessible route for many poor and vulnerable tenants.

In its letter, the LRC has demanded that the offices of the Rental Housing Tribunals in all provinces re-open not later than 13 July 2020, subject to appropriate safety protocols. We have requested a response by Friday 10 July 2020 and should we not receive a response, legal proceedings will commence compelling the re-opening of the Rental Housing Tribunals in all provinces.

Issued by the Legal Resources Centre
Media Enquiries:
Cell: 068 584 2442 / Email: thabo@lrc.org.za