THE EVICTION PROCESS IN SOUTH AFRICAN LAW
It is crucial for a property owner to know the correct process to follow when evicting unlawful occupants and what the rights of each party are. The eviction procedure is governed by the Prevention of Illegal Eviction From and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998, referred to as the PIE Act.
The most common reason for eviction of a tenant is non-payment of rental. However, tenants can also be evicted where they violate any of the terms of a lease agreement such as intentional damage to property or use of the leased property for a purpose other than what it was initially leased for. To initiate the eviction procedure, the property owner must first cancel the existing lease by giving written notice to the tenant and affording the tenant reasonable time to vacate the property, usually (30-60 days).
What happens if there is no lease agreement in place? The property owner must still send the tenant a written notice to terminate the tenancy. If the tenant continues to reside in the property despite proper notice being given, the property owner may then launch the eviction application in a Court which has jurisdiction over the area in which the property is situated.
The property owner must instruct the sheriff to serve the eviction application with a date and time of the eviction hearing personally on the tenant as well as on the municipality situated in the area of the property at least 14 business days before the eviction hearing. During the hearing, the Magistrate will consider whether the occupation is indeed unlawful, whether the correct procedure was followed in terms of the PIE Act and whether the eviction order will be just and equitable in the circumstances. If the tenant is absent, the Magistrate will either proceed or postpone the hearing.
It is imperative for the owner of the property to follow the correct procedure as set out in the PIE Act rather than to take the law into their own hand. That may result in the occupant approaching the Court to have an order made entitling him or her to re-occupy the premises and ordering the owner of the property to pay the costs of the application.
For more information on evictions and other related matters, contact Myers Attorneys at (011) 346 2422 or email us at email@example.com. You can also visit our website at www.myersattorneys.co.za