Consumer Protection

Consumer Protection

How the Consumer Protection Act can help you

The Consumer Protection Act:

  • ensures that you are treated as an equal and protects you against discrimination in economic transactions
  • protects your privacy and ensures fair practice when goods or services are marketed to you
  • means you have the right to choose the agreements you enter into and continue with
  • gives you the right to the disclosure of information so that you can make informed choices
  • protects you against fraud and other dishonest practices
  • makes sure that you don’t have to agree to unfair conditions in the small print
  • allows you to return things which don’t work properly
  • protects you against goods and services that can harm you
  • makes suppliers compensate you if they have caused you a loss
  • ensures that you are educated on consumer issues and the results of your
  • makes it possible for you to form groups to promote your interests

Who and what is involved in the Consumer Protection Act?

The Consumer Protection Act can help consumers in dealings which involve advertising, marketing, promoting, selling, supplying and delivering or repairing of goods and services in South Africa.
You are a consumer if you have made a deal with a supplier, for example, when you pay for goods or services, or if goods or services are marketed to you.
Goods include things, but also information and data and the licence to use it.
Services include receiving advice or training you pay for, transport of people or goods, transactions at restaurants and hotels, entertainment and access to electronic communication.
Employment relationships, credit agreements, deals between two private consumers and goods or services supplied to government do not fall under the Consumer Protection Act.

If you have a complaint and the supplier won’t resolve it for you, you can complain to your provincial Consumer Affairs Office or the National Consumer Commission as well as other bodies.
Whenever the Consumer Protection Act refers to ’business days’ it means the days from Monday to Friday. Continue reading more on new page…

What is a Credit Bureau?

A Credit Bureau is an organisation that keeps a record of your credit information. Your credit record shows how you manage your debts and is used by credit providers and moneylenders to decide if you can afford to borrow money or pay back a new loan.

The National Credit Act says each credit bureau must be registered with the National Credit Regulator – who decides how your credit information can be used and who can see your credit record.

What is the role of a Credit Bureau?

When you take out your first loan with a credit provider, you have to fill in a form that asks for consumer credit information – including your credit history, financial history, education, employment and identity details.

This information, and the details of the loan, is given to a credit bureau that then puts together credit report.

What are the responsibilities of a Credit Bureau?

  • To file information on your credit record after the fee is paid by the credit provider
  • To make sure the information is correct and not to keep inaccurate information
  • To only keep information for the prescribed period and to a prescribed standard
  • To provide a report of the information ( a credit report), when required by credit providers or anyone else who has your permission
  • Not to charge for corrections or challenges to the information by you, the consumer
  • Not to make a negative judgement about you when they do not have any credit information

How can your credit information be used?

  • To decide whether or not you can afford credit
  • To investigate fraud, corruption or theft
  • To consider you for employment in a position that requires trust, honesty and the handling of cash or finances

What are your rights regarding a Credit Bureau?

  • To be told that a credit provider intends to report negative information on you to a credit bureau 20 working days before they do so
  • To get a copy of your credit record from a credit bureau when you ask for it – you can get one free record each year but may be charged a small fee for further records
  • To challenge information kept by a credit bureau if you are unhappy with it
  • For your information to be kept confidential, and for it to be used only for the purposes that are allowed

How do you apply for your free Credit Record?

  • Contact the Credit Bureau and ask them to send you your credit record You will need to provide some personal information – such as your ID number and address

How do you correct your Credit Record?

  • If you disagree with your credit record, you must send in the corrections within 30 days. Thereafter you can get additional free copies of your record to check the corrections have been done. After this, you must pay a small fee for a copy
  • Contact the credit bureau and ask for a dispute form. They will send you the form and a reference number
  • Complete the forms and send them back to the bureau with a copy of your ID
  • Include proof of the information you want changed, such as a debt clearance certificate or statement of account
  • If they have kept a negative listing longer than they should have, insist they remove the record from their system. They have 20 working days to investigate the matter
  • Ask for another copy of your credit report to check that the changes have been made
  • If they are unhelpful, contact the Credit Bureau Association on 011-4477194 or email OR the National Credit Regulator on 0860 627627 or email

Permission to use this material has been granted by Black Sash

The Rental Housing Tribunal

What is the Rental Housing Tribunal (RHT)?

The Rental Housing Tribunal (the Tribunal) is a body appointed in terms of the Rental Housing Act. Its main function is to investigate and resolve disputes between tenants and landlords without them going to court.

How much do they charge?

The services rendered by the Tribunal are free.

What types of disputes can you refer to the Tribunal?

The Tribunal can determine disputes about, for example, eviction without a court order, intolerable living conditions, a
landlord refusing to refund
a deposit, non-payment of rental, lack of maintenance of the property, one-sided changes to the lease agreement,
failure to provide municipal services, et cetera.

How to lodge a complaint?

You will have to complete the prescribed forms available from your local Tribunal. The complaint must be lodged in person, by post, by fax or by e-mail. The contact details of your local Tribunal can be obtained by looking online or by calling 0860 106 166.

What documents are required to lodge a complaint?

You should as a minimum include the following documents in support of your complaint:

·         Your ID/ passport/ permit;

·         The addresses and contact telephone numbers of the tenant and landlord;

·         The written lease agreement, or the terms of the verbal lease agreement; and

·         The proof of your rental payments.

What is the process after you lodge a complaint? 

You can expect the following steps to take place:

Step 1

The office of the Tribunal will open a file.

Step 2

A letter is sent to both parties which outlines the details of the complaint.

Step 3

A preliminary investigation will be done.

Step 4

The complaint will be mediated to try and resolve it. But, if no agreement is
reached, the matter will be referred for an arbitration hearing.

Step 5

Once arbitration has taken place, the Tribunal will hand down a ruling which is binding on both the tenant and the landlord.

Step 6

The Tribunal’s ruling can be enforced in terms of the provisions of the Magistrate’s Court Act.

Step 7

If one of the parties is unhappy with the ruling of the Tribunal, they can have the ruling reviewed by the High Court.

How can Legal Aid SA help you? 

Should you need further advice about the Rental Housing Tribunal or an in-depth explanation of the rules and laws pertaining to rentals, you can visit your nearest Legal Aid SA office or call our toll-free Legal Aid Advice Line on 0800 110 110 / send a Please Call Me to 079 835 7179. 

This information has been supplied by the Head of the Legal Aid SA Malmesbury Local Office, Renaat Bodart.