It’s not such fun being the underdog. I experienced it just the other day when I broke down on the side of the freeway. Suddenly the size and make of my vehicle were immaterial. I stood there in the half-light, knowing that it would be some time before any of the promised help arrived, and during that time I was totally vulnerable to whatever chanced to come my way.
And there are times in life when we are all underdogs, in one or more ways, and none of them leave us feeling that hot. So while my galpal was busy tidying up her relationship with Lord Awful, the type of landlord you would wish on your worst enemy, I knew that deep down she was feeling horribly vulnerable. And with her deposit looking like history, a move of home looming, she was financially vulnerable too. At these times it often happens that we don’t always have the time, resources or finances to cross the t’s and dot the i’s but it was comforting to know that even in retrospect, she wasn’t as defenceless as she seemed. There were bodies out there that she could turn to, and their help is affordable.
The Estate Agency Affairs Board of SA: stop number one. Legally, every agent is required to register and cannot accept commission without a Fidelity Fund Certificate which needs to be renewed each year. The Board aims to regulate and control activities with the estate agency profession and registration with the board confirms that an agent is legally entitled to carry out the activities of an estate agent. Finding out whether or not an agent is registered is as simple as doing a search on their site, or calling them. Should disputes arise or, as in the case of galpal, deposits disappear, this is a first and important port of call.
Affiliated to the Estate Agency Affairs Board is the Whistle Blower Hotline where people can anonymously report fraud and crime within the property world.
The Rental Housing Tribunal is another, independent body, appointed by the Provincial Minister of Housing to promote stability within the rental housing sector. Its services are offered free of charge and it aims to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants with the least inconvenience, time and cost to parties involved.
This service is available to any tenant or landlord, and parties do not need an attorney. Once a complaint has been lodged, the Tribunal will schedule mediation with a view to assisting the parties to reach an agreement. If an agreement is not reached, the matter will be referred to a hearing at the Tribunal. While the ruling of the Tribunal is deemed to be an order of court, anyone unhappy with the ruling can approach a high court with the requisite jurisdiction.
I was delighted, and so was galpal. Once her move had been orchestrated and the dust settled, we knew where she could turn for help and advice and to show Lord Awful that he was not really above the law.
The Estate Agency Affairs Board of SA 087 285 3222
Whistle Blower Hotline 0800 223 225
Rental Housing Tribunal There is no one site for the Tribunal as it operates on a regional basis. Google “Rental Housing Tribunal” for the offices nearest you or use the numbers below.
GAUTENG 011 355 4000
NORTH WES_T_ 018 384 6201
JHB EAST 011 630 5035
PRETORIA 012 358 4403
CENTURION 012 358 3898
KZN 031 336 5300
LIMPOPO 015 294 2000
EASTERN CAPE 040 639 1769
NORTHERN CAPE 053 830 9455
WESTERN CAPE 021 483 9494