Evictions: Know the law
The Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998 (“PIE Act”) affords protection to tenants against unlawful eviction.
Regarding the eviction process, the PIE Act stipulates, in general terms, the following:
- there are certain procedures must be followed;
- notice of the intention of getting a court order must be given to the tenant;
- the landowner or landlord must apply to the court to have a written notice served on the tenant; and
- the notice must be served on the tenant at least 14 days before the date of the hearing.
The Rental Housing Tribunal
The Rental Housing Tribunal (RHT) was established in terms of the Rental Housing Act 50 of 1999, which regulates the relationship between landlords and tenants, unlawful evictions as well as unlawful notices to vacate. From the moment the lease agreement terms are breached, the landlord may lawfully cancel the agreement (in terms of the lease agreement provisions) and the tenant then becomes an illegal occupier. An example of a breach occurring would be where a tenant fails and/or refuses to pay rent, or does not make payment of rent timeously.
The PIE Act states that no one may be deprived of their property except in terms of law of general application. Arbitrary deprivation of property is unlawful but no-one may take the law into his/her own hands. Additionally, no-one may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances. It is desirable that the law should regulate the eviction of unlawful occupiers from land in a fair manner, whilst recognising the right of land owners to apply to a court for an eviction order in appropriate circumstances. Special consideration should be given to the rights of the elderly, children, disabled persons and particularly households headed by women.
The service of a notice does not guarantee that the illegal occupier will leave the premises as the court will only grant eviction if it is “just and equitable”. The owner must have reasonable grounds for eviction and alternative accommodation must be available to the unlawful occupier.
Should you require assistance with a lease agreement or an eviction, contact our litigation department.
Albin Wagner | Partner
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This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)