Concourt sends tenants in lease row to tribunal
A group of tenants whose leases were cancelled to make way for more expensive apartments must take the matter back to the Gauteng Rental Housing Tribunal, the Constitutional Court has ruled.
"The tribunal is empowered to determine whether a landlord committed an 'unfair practice', and it might accordingly rule in the tenants' favour," said Justice Edwin Cameron.
Aengus Lifestyle Properties, which specialises in buying old Joburg buildings and revamping them into modern apartments, had given notice to tenants of Lowliebenhof, Braamfontein, leases.
Aengus wanted to revamp the building so it offered the tenants alternative accommodation, with the option to stay on but paying higher rent.
The tenants lodged a complaint with the tribunal, a body established under the Rental Housing Act, but mediation was unsuccessful.
When the landlord brought eviction proceedings against them in the High Court in Joburg, they withdrew their case and challenged their eviction.
Cameron, reading the majority judgment, said when the matter was escalated to the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal, those courts found the Rental Housing Act did not apply and that the landlord was entitled to terminate the leases with written notice.
However, the Concourt found the two previous courts failed to give adequate weight to the act and that the landlord's conduct may have amounted to an unfair practice. The tenants had not withdrawn their complaint of unfair practices, and so that complaint and any other the landlord might have about the rental rate should be considered by the tribunal.
The court gave the tenants until May 2 to lodge a complaint with the tribunal.
Posted at 09:20AM Mar 14, 2012 by Editor in Residential |