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Evicting your tenant. Do it by the book

Has your tenant bailed on rent, damaged property or simply breached the lease agreement? Despite your frustration, eviction is not as easy as kicking the door down and chucking your tenant’s clothes onto the pavement. By taking justified steps, you can have your property back in your rightful hands, without causing a rift with the law.

Eviction and the law
As a basic human right, housing is a necessity for all living persons, and their right to seek such shelter is of primary concern. Before the Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Unlawful Occupation of Land (PIE) Act 19 of 1998, it was easy for impolite landlords to evict tenants unlawfully, leaving them with no place to turn.

The PIE Act ensures that, as far as possible, a tenant is granted safe housing, and that their rights are protected. Section 8(1) of the PIE Act states that no person may evict an unlawful occupier except on the authority of an order of a Court, and in failing to comply, the landlord would then be found guilty of contravening the act.

Eviction and its procedure
Usually, the eviction process can be started by notifying the tenant of a breach in the lease agreement, for example, missed rent payment or noise complaints. Should the tenant fail to meet the requirements to terminate possible eviction, the landlord may begin the eviction process through the Court.

Because the tenant is protected by the PIE Act, the Court must consider their circumstances leading to eviction. Section 4(5) affirms that the notice must state that eviction proceedings are being instituted for an order, the date and time of the Court hearing, the grounds for the said eviction, and that the tenant may defend the case. The process of evicting an unsavoury tenant is then finalised by an official Court order granted by the Court.

The order must indicate the date the tenant must vacate the property, and should they fail to adhere, eviction will follow. During such eviction, the sheriff of the court is required to be present.

For instances where the eviction procedure may be deemed urgent, section 5 applies; there is a danger or injury to a person or property in the continual occupation by the tenant, the need for the landlord to have the tenant evicted is far greater than the need for the tenant to continue occupation, and no other effective means are viable.

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)

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