Rental Housing Tribunal to resume and clear 950 case backlog

The Rental Housing Tribunal (RHT), which serves to settle legal disputes between landlords and tenants in the Western Cape, is set to resume via a virtual platform from next week starting on 8 June. 


The RHT was prohibited from operating due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving thousands of people in the lurch with outstanding cases. 

Backlog developing in the Western Cape


The announcement about the resumption of the RHT was revealed during a virtual meeting of the provincial Human Settlements Committee on Wednesday 3 June. 


Matlhodi Maseko, the Democratic Alliance (DA) Western Cape Committee Chairperson for  Human Settlements said that the resumption of business in the tribunal is critical, with a large backlog in cases forming and a great deal of disputes having come to light as a result of tenants finding it difficult to fulfil their rental obligations during the pandemic. 


"We are encouraged by the fact that the Rental Housing Tribunal will resume its operations virtually during the nationwide lockdown. Due to the uncertainty at this time, over 950 cases are in backlog. It is therefore critical that the Tribunal resume its work."


He said that the RHT would sit for two extra days per week to address the backlog and get the ball rolling again. 


"The Tribunal normally sits three times per week. But to address the backlog, it will sit for five full days per week in a virtual setting."

What does the Rental Housing Tribunal do?


The RHT is a free service that seeks to achieve several harmonising goals, and ultimately keep disputes out of arbitration. According to the Western Cape government, the RHT serves to achieve the following: 

  1. Harmonise relationships between landlords and tenants in the rental housing sector.

  2. Resolve disputes that arise due to unfair practices.[*]Inform landlords and tenants about their rights and obligations in terms of the Rental Housing Act.[*]Make recommendations to relevant stakeholders.

Its objectives are:

  1. To promote stability in the rental housing sector in the Western Cape.

  2. To create mechanisms to deal with disputes in the rental housing sector.[*]To facilitate, investigate, mediate and conduct hearings to resolve disputes.[*]To inform landlords and tenants of their rights and obligations should unfair and unlawful practices arise.

Other types of disputes dealt with by the tribunal include:

  1. Failure to adequately maintain the rental property.

  2. Unlawful repossession of property and unlawful evictions.[*]Failure to accept notice and to vacate the premises.[*]Unlawful notices to vacate.[*]Unilateral changes to lease agreements.[*]Failure to provide monthly statements or issue receipts.[*]Unlawful seizure of possessions.[*]Failure to provide municipal services.

Mask said that the process would be closely monitored by the DA and provincial oversight committees. 


We look forward to monitoring the work of the Tribunal and anticipate that swift steps will be taken to promote its online work in line with the need to address the existing backlog.


The DA in the Western Cape is committed to providing residents with access to government services in a safe, reliable, and efficient way.