How to Lodge a Complaint with a Rental Tribunal

Living in a rented property offers numerous benefits, but there are times when disputes between landlords and tenants arise.

This post will help you with how to lodge a complaint with a rental tribunal.

These disputes can range from issues with maintenance and repairs to disagreements over rental payments.

In South Africa, if you find yourself in such a situation, you have the option to lodge a complaint with a rental tribunal to seek a fair resolution. In this article, we’ll walk you through the process step by step.

What are Rental Tribunals?

Rental tribunals are specialized bodies set up to handle disputes between tenants and landlords. Their primary goal is to provide an impartial platform for resolving conflicts, ensuring that both parties’ rights are upheld. These tribunals operate according to specific rental laws and regulations.

Reasons to Lodge a Complaint

Lodging a complaint with a rental tribunal is a crucial step when communication with your landlord reaches an impasse. Complaints can be related to various issues, including unaddressed maintenance problems, unjustified deductions from your security deposit, unlawful eviction attempts, or unfair rental increases.

We’re almost at the steps on how to lodge a complaint with a rental tribunal but here’s what you need to do first.

Gather Evidence

Before proceeding with your complaint, it’s essential to gather relevant evidence to support your claims. This may include photographs, copies of communication with the landlord, rental agreements, and any records of repairs or maintenance requests you’ve made.

Researching Applicable Laws

Understanding the rental laws in South Africa is fundamental to your case. These laws outline the rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords. They cover aspects such as rental increases, notice periods, habitability standards, and more.

How to Lodge a Complaint with a Rental Tribunal

To initiate the complaint process, you’ll need to contact the rental tribunal in your province. They will provide you with information on the necessary steps and forms to complete. Be prepared to share details about your situation, including the nature of the dispute and the parties involved.

Filling Out Complaint Forms

Complaint forms serve as the formal documentation of your complaint. They require detailed information about the issue, parties involved, and the desired outcome. Carefully fill out these forms, ensuring accuracy and completeness.

Engaging with the Landlord

Before escalating the issue to a tribunal, consider discussing the problem with your landlord. Open communication can sometimes lead to a mutually agreeable solution. Share your concerns calmly and listen to their perspective as well.

Mediation and Resolution Attempts

Many rental tribunals offer mediation as an initial step. Mediation involves a neutral third party facilitating a conversation between you and your landlord. It’s a chance to work collaboratively toward a resolution without formal adjudication.

Formal Complaint Submission

If mediation doesn’t yield a satisfactory resolution, you can proceed with formally submitting your complaint to the tribunal. There might be a fee associated with this step, so be sure to inquire about the costs.

Tribunal Hearing Preparation

As your case moves forward, prepare for the tribunal hearing. Organize your evidence, list your main points, and rehearse your statements. Being well-prepared can significantly impact the outcome of the hearing.

Attending the Tribunal Hearing

During the tribunal hearing, present your case clearly and confidently. Stick to the facts, refer to your evidence, and remain composed. The tribunal members will appreciate a well-organized and respectful presentation.

Tribunal’s Decision and Follow-Up

Following the hearing, the tribunal will make a decision based on the presented evidence and applicable laws. They may order the landlord to take specific actions or compensate you in some way. Depending on the decision, follow the prescribed steps.

Appealing the Decision

If you disagree with the tribunal’s decision, you might have the option to appeal. Be aware of the appeal process and its deadlines. Grounds for appeal typically include procedural errors or substantial unfairness in the original hearing.

Rental Ombudsman Contact

The rental ombudsman contact is At the appropriate RHT offices, which may be found online or by calling 0860 106 166/ 011 355 4000/ 012 483 5020, complaints must be made in person or by letter.

Rental Tribunal Contact Details

Email address:

The Human Settlements Ombudsman’s office.

Weekdays between 8:00 a.m. and 15:30 p.m., call 0800 1(HOUSE) 46873.

Telephone Fax: 012 341 8512.

Corruption & Fraud: 0800 701 701.

Address: Sunnyside, Pretoria, 0002; 240 Justice Mahomed Street; Govan Mbeki House.

Rental Housing Tribunal Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Rental Housing Tribunal, and what does it do?

The Rental Housing Tribunal is a legal entity in South Africa that resolves disputes between landlords and tenants. It ensures fair and transparent dealings in rental housing, addressing issues such as lease disputes, maintenance problems, and non-compliance with rental agreements.

2. How do I know if the Rental Housing Tribunal has jurisdiction over my case?

The Tribunal operates provincially, with each province having its own Tribunal. If your rental property is located within a specific province, that province’s Tribunal has jurisdiction over your case.

3. What types of disputes can the Tribunal handle?

The Tribunal is equipped to mediate various rental-related disputes, including conflicts over rental payments, lease terminations, deposit refunds, maintenance concerns, and issues related to unlawful evictions.

4. What are the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords?

The FAQs provide insights into the rights and responsibilities of both parties. Tenants can find information on issues like rent increases, privacy, and maintenance, while landlords can get guidance on eviction procedures, non-payment of rent, and contractual obligations.

5. How do I file a complaint with the Tribunal?

Details about the required documentation and procedures for filing a complaint or responding to one are covered in the FAQs. This ensures that parties involved are well-informed about the necessary steps in the dispute resolution process.

6. Are Tribunal decisions legally binding?

Yes, decisions made by the Tribunal are legally binding. Parties are expected to comply with the rulings, and failure to do so may lead to legal consequences.

7. How long does it take to resolve a dispute with the Tribunal?

The duration varies based on the complexity of the case. While the Tribunal aims for timely resolutions, factors such as case complexity and local circumstances can influence the timeline.

8. Is there a cost associated with using the services of the Rental Housing Tribunal?

The FAQs clarify that the Tribunal’s services are generally free or involve minimal fees. This ensures that individuals, regardless of financial status, can access the dispute resolution services provided by the Tribunal.


Lodging a complaint with a rental tribunal in South Africa requires thorough preparation, adherence to rental laws, and effective communication. By following these steps on how to lodge a complaint with a rental tribunal, you can navigate the process with confidence and increase your chances of reaching a satisfactory resolution. Remember, rental tribunals are there to protect your rights as a tenant and ensure fair treatment.