Eviction Law in South Africa
Several legislative guidelines are in place to protect the rights of tenants, and landlords are cautioned to follow the proper procedures for a legal eviction. When it comes to evicting tenants, landlords are not allowed to take matters into their own hands. A tenant must be placed in breach of the lease, the lease agreement cancelled in writing and the tenant called upon to vacate the property. The contents of these notifications are collectively referred to in this article as the notice to vacate. Only after the notice to vacate has expired can eviction proceedings commence.
The Legal Definition and Meaning of Eviction
The removal of a tenant from a rented property by the landlord is known as eviction. An eviction takes place when a person is legally required to vacate the property they are residing in. The Constitution prohibits taking someone’s property or evicting them from their home without a court order. Before evicting an occupant from their property, the owner must make an application to court.
A person who occupies property without the permission of the landlord, without a legal right to do so, or who is not an occupant under any other legislation is defined as an unlawful occupier. For example, when a tenant‘s permission to remain on the property is legally withdrawn by the landlord, they are considered to be an unlawful occupier.
The Difference Between Cancelling a Lease Agreement and Evicting a Tenant
It is necessary to distinguish between the process of terminating a lease agreement and the process of eviction. The lease agreement terminates when the lease agreement expires or if the tenant breaches the lease agreement and the landlord acts in terms of the lease agreement to take the necessary steps in terms of the lease agreement to cancel the lease agreement.
When Can You Evict a Tenant?
The eviction process, on the other hand, may only proceed if a tenant refuses to vacate the property following the cancellation or termination of the lease agreement. In order to remove a tenant or unlawful occupant from a property, an eviction order from a Court is needed. Only the court-appointed sheriff of the Court is authorized to evict a tenant from the property once the tenant has been served with an eviction notice.
How Does The Eviction Process Work in South Africa?
The Rules and Laws that are relevant to lease agreements and upon which the Eviction Process in South Africa is based are as follows:
The eviction procedure is outlined in the Prevention of Illegal Eviction From & Unlawful Occupation of Land Act No. 19 of 1998 (PIE Act) and must be utilised to evict a tenant. Most eviction procedures will follow the normal eviction process but there are instances where an urgent eviction process may be granted. It is advisable to seek expert legal advice to determine the most appropriate eviction procedure to be followed for your matter.
The South African Eviction Process:
- Week 1 – Week 3: The tenant or occupier is placed in breach of the lease agreement, and the lease is cancelled. Thereafter, an application to the court for eviction and payment of arrear rental is drafted, issued and served to the recalcitrant occupier.
- Week 4 – Week 7: An ex parte application is launched to the court – no notice is given to the occupier. The court then orders the manner of service of the PIE Act notice.
- Week 8 – Week 10: The application is set down for hearing and an eviction order is granted. The writ of ejectment is issued and failing the occupier vacating, the occupier is evicted by the sheriff of the court and the occupier’s moveables are seized in settlement of the arrear rental
Alan Levy Attorneys: Expert Eviction Attorneys in Johannesburg
It is best to explore other avenues before proceeding with the legal eviction procedure due to the involved process and associated costs.
However, if you have exhausted all options, and need to evict an unlawful occupier or tenant, it is best to hire an experienced eviction lawyer. Successful eviction requires extensive knowledge of applicable legislation as well as the procedures to be followed for a legal eviction.
Alan Levy Attorneys have years of experience acting on behalf of landlords to legally and successfully evict unlawful occupiers.
This article is intended as an educational summary of eviction law in South Africa and does not constitute legal advice of any sort. Always consult an experienced lawyer before pursuing legal action. For professional legal assistance for evictions, litigations or dispute resolution, or related matters contact Alan Levy Attorneys.