North West residents appealed to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on Thursday to help resolve problems with RDP houses in the Matlosana municipality, in Klerksdorp.
Young and old packed the Klerksdorp town hall and told how they had been forced to sign up and occupy houses even when they complained about the poor standards of construction.
"A contractor told me that someone else would sign my happy letter if I kept on refusing to sign. My house is now falling apart," said Margaret Nteu, a resident of Kanana township
Some residents said they had been waiting for their houses for years, but to no avail.
Foundations were constructed and then abandoned three years ago in Joubertina township, said another resident Buti Tshabalala.
He said his local councillor had told him that the government was "meeting people halfway" and that he should complete building his house himself.
A mother of three broke down when she tried to explain that her house was completed, but was then given to someone else.
"I have done everything to get the municipality to give me my house. Records show that I own the house, but I still live in a shack."
The occupant of her house, who was a civil servant, refused to move out and municipal rates were accumulating under her name, she said.
Madonsela is in the North West as part of a nation-wide systematic investigation of complaints regarding RDP houses.