Landlord and Tenant Disputes – Eviction and the PIE Act
A well drafted lease agreement can assist to prevent landlord-tenant relationships deteriorating to a stage where eviction must be considered. However, sometimes it is the only option left to protect and preserve your property rights.
In terms of our law, no one should be evicted without a valid Court order. There are very strict procedures that must be followed by a landlord to obtain an eviction order, failing which, landlords may find themselves on the wrong side of the law and it may take longer periods for an eviction order to be obtained.
The Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998 (PIE Act) governs the eviction process. The aim of the PIE Act is to protect the rights of both the occupiers and the property owners.
All residential tenants are covered by the PIE Act, including illegal occupants and defaulting tenants. Grounds for eviction under the PIE Act exist in the following circumstances –
- When a tenant has breached material provisions of an existing lease agreement;
- When a tenant has failed to make rental payments timeously, or at all;
- When there is a fixed lease agreement, which has not been renewed, has subsequently expired, and has been properly terminated in terms of the provisions of the lease agreement; or
- When a tenant is a nuisance to the neighbours;
- When a tenant causes damage to the property;
An application under the PIE Act can only be brought if an occupant of a property is considered to be in unlawful occupation of the property. Unlawfulness of a tenant’s occupation of a property must be alleged and shown in an applicant’s founding affidavit, for instance, in the event of a breach of any provision of the lease agreement, the applicant must show that he / she effectively cancelled the lease agreement in line with the provisions of the breach clause.
In addition to the above, a proper notice of the eviction proceedings should be served on the persons concerned, in line with the time periods and provisions of the PIE Act.
Generally, tenants should not be evicted into a situation of homelessness. Landlord should request and obtain a housing report from the relevant municipality having jurisdiction over the property. The purpose of a housing report is for the municipality to furnish the tenants facing eviction, with temporary alternative accommodation in accordance with the municipality’s available resources. Landlords should also request a housing report in the early stages of the application to avoid having the application postponed for purposes of obtaining the housing report.
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