Recently, we’ve seen a lot of talk in the news about illegal eviction. IOL reported that illegal farm evictions are on the rise in the Western Cape. This is in accordance with the provincial Human Rights Commission and Women on Farms, which is a non-governmental organisation.
What counts as an illegal eviction?
There are certain steps that need to be followed in order to legally evict a tenant. A lawful eviction takes place when the tenant or individual is legally forced to vacate the property that they are occupying. The registered owner of the property or person in charge of the property can apply for an eviction order in the event that the unlawful occupier fails to vacate the property.
Should a landlord want to remove an individual from their residential property, they will have to follow the right procedure as stipulated by the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (“PIE Act”). The PIE Act was enacted to regulate the lawful eviction of unlawful occupiers and to afford protection to those who are unlawfully evicted.
In July 2017, Human Rights commissioner, Chris Neese explained that he has been dealing with over 20 cases of families being evicted from their farm homes in areas such as Ceres, Somerset West, and Worcester.
According to him, the conditions in which these evictions are taking place is unlawful and ‘brutal’, a situation that should definitely be addressed. In the article, Neese mentions that farmers are exploiting loopholes in the Extension of Security of Tenure Act by calling the process ‘constructive evictions’. Mostly, they are forced out of their homes by intimidation and people aren’t necessarily aware of their legal rights.
Clearing up confusion around evictions
To clear up possible confusion, these are the only circumstances under which a person may be evicted from the property they are residing on:
- The tenant is considered to be an unlawful occupier. A person staying on the property without consent from the landlord, or any right in law to do so.
- The landlord withdraws or cancels the previous consent that allowed the tenant to occupy the property. For instance, when the lease has expired, or the tenant breaches the lease agreement and the tenant failed to remedy his or her breach
Processing a legal eviction
If you are a landlord or property owner dealing with the eviction process, read our article on lawful eviction to make sure that you’re following the right steps and procedures. Landlords should also educate themselves on the specifics of the PIE Act. They aren’t allowed to just change the locks or restrict access to their tenant. This act is in place to protect both the landlord and the tenant and just ensures the right channels are followed.
If you are a landlord trying to evict your tenant, or you suspect that you are being illegally evicted, contact Le Roux Attorneys today to get a professional opinion on the matter.
For more on legal evictions check out our article How to Evict Non-Paying Tenants (Lawfully) in South Africa
Should you require legal advice or want us to represent your eviction case then feel free to get in touch with our team of attorneys here