Expert Advice for Landlords
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.
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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.
CCMA and Labour Court representation
The process before both the CCMA and the Labour Court include conciliation and arbitration, and dispute resolution. No party may be legally represented during conciliation, as it makes the process expensive and can be perceived to have the effect of complicating a would-be straightforward process. A party must therefore appear in person or be represented by a trade union or employers organisation. During arbitration, the parties may be legally represented in certain cases and then, only if the commissioner and all the parties to the dispute come to the conclusion that it would be unreasonable if a party is not legally represented in the circumstances. A party has no absolute right to be legally represented in labour disputes and need to convince the commissioner and other parties that he should have legal representation. A labour attorney will be able to advise an employer, ahead of time, as to which factors to focus on to persuade the commissioner and other parties of this.
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.
In a test case on the 11th of November 2015 the South Gauteng High Court ruled in favour of the Applicant to disconnect the utility supply of a sectional title owner who defaulted on levies and utility bills payable to the Cathkin Peak South Body Corporate. Read more
Just Released! The book covers important legal aspects of rental property management and the eviction process, written in layman’s language for the South African rental property industry. Loaded with tools and smart tips from legal experts, including handy DIY templates.
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…