Eviction in South Africa
Following the correct eviction procedures goes a long way towards minimising the cost of evicting problematic tenants or illegal occupants.
Due to the high cost and complexity of legislation dealing with the eviction process, it is often perceived as being unfair to property owners and biased in favour of problematic tenants and illegal occupants of property.
However, if applied correctly by a knowledgeable attorney, it is decidedly the most effective means of reclaiming your property in South Africa.
Who to contact
Expert Advice for Landlords
What is the best way to evict problematic tenants?
A landlord is entitled to evict a non-paying or undesirable tenant and to obtain judgement to recover losses, damages and legal costs by approaching the Court. This is possible provided that the correct procedures are followed in accordance with the Prevention of Illegal Evictions from, and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998 known as the PIE Act.
How long does it take to evict a tenant?
The entire eviction process could take anything from a few weeks to a few months. The time frame depends to a large extent on whether or not:
1. the correct eviction procedures were followed;
2. a proper rental or lease agreement was in place; and
3. the occupant is contesting the eviction application.
The tenant can decide to vacate at any point during the eviction process after the first notice is served, or not at all.
How much does an eviction cost?
It goes without saying that the shorter the duration of the eviction process, the less costly it will be. Delays resulting from delayed action or incorrect legal procedures, which will then need to be rectified and re-lodged, could lead to additional legal costs, loss of rental income and increased risk of damage to the property. Depending on the circumstances, the eviction attorney may in some instances be able to provide some indication as to the expected costs.
How much force is allowed in evicting a tenant?
An unlawful or incorrect eviction could have a non-paying tenant occupying a property indefinitely. In the event of spoliation, a landlord could even be ordered to pay for the tenant's legal costs and provide alternative housing on top of that.
Actions like disconnecting electricity or water supplies to a property, changing locks or evicting a tenant by intimidation or force, are typical examples of spoliation or ‘taking the law into one’s own hands’ and unfair rental practices as set out by the Rental Housing Act, 50 of 1999.
Are costs and losses recovered from evicted tenants?
In general, property related litigation can be quite technical and the rental agreement is pivotal in the eviction process as well as in the recovery of rental arrears. Usually the non-paying tenant’s goods are attached in the early stages of the eviction process and forms part of the lost rental recovery procedure. Once an order is granted, the goods are sold on auction and paid towards the landlord’s legal cost and rental arrears.
The Consumer Protection Act, 68 of 2008 compounds the problem. In the absence of a proper lease agreement that complies with the act, the time within which a landlord will be able to get an eviction will be extended by at least a further month.
Discussing your tenant problems or requirements with a specialist property litigation attorney without delay is an important step towards recovering your property and losses while avoiding costly mistakes.
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"Our expert eviction attorney's advice can shorten the time span of an eviction by several weeks or possibly even months. A landlord is entitled to evict a non-paying or undesirable tenant and to obtain judgement to recover losses, damages and legal costs..."
“Due to the technical nature of evictions, an eviction attorney's experience and expertise are vital...”