Tenants Rights In South Africa: Basic Things You Need To Know About It

Filed in Article by on April 18, 2021 0 Comments

Are you a tenant in South Africa and you don’t know your rights? If yes, then this informative article is for you. You will be given detailed information about tenants’ rights in South Africa.

Whether you are risking eviction or want to know more about South African law on properties, getting the right information is crucial. Research and use only reliable sources when digging for info. After all, the last thing you want is to find yourself on the wrong side of the law. Even so, you do not want to be cowered into accepting eventualities that are not favourable or even acceptable, just because you are clueless on such issues.

How To Evict A Tenant In South Africa

Common sense would have it that you are given notice, mostly by word of mouth in case there is no misunderstanding, before being evicted from your rented premises. However, this is not always the case as certain landlords tend to bully occupants out of their houses for one reason or the other. Sometimes it is the tenant that refuses to vacate.

A smart landlord or tenant can seek legal redress for whatever complications that arise. As such, for a smooth eviction process, it is necessary for both tenant and landlord to understand the legal frameworks first. You need to know what is at stake to avoid being taken advantage of.

Have you been wondering how to evict a tenant without a lease in South Africa? Well, the fact that they do not have a lease may complicate issues, more so if they are non-paying tenants. Whatever you do though, try to work with your lawyer to serve notice of eviction. In case the tenant is stubborn, you may have to obtain a court order for the eviction.

The process will cost you money and may take some time, but it will be worth it when all is said and done. You do not want to get yourself in unnecessary litigation processes just because you cut off basic amenities like water and electricity in an attempt to force the tenant out.

Eviction When There Are No Issues

In case you are not going through complicated issues with regard to tenants’ rights without a lease in South Africa, you can always vacate a premise in peace. There are 3 types of evictions in South Africa, namely:

  • Normal Eviction
  • Urgent Evictions
  • Organ Of State Specialized Evictions.

Tenant Eviction Process

As you strive to get familiar with rental laws in South Africa, remember that the lease agreement must be adhered to. You risk being evicted as a tenant when you are in breach of the lease agreement. The process is as follows:

  • The landlord will serve a notice to the tenant asking him or her to rectify the breach.
  • In case there are no rectification efforts, the Landlord is allowed to terminate the lease contract as he wills.
  • First, he should give the offending tenant notice of his intention to evict the tenant via the courts.
  • The landlord should make an application to the court to have a “Tenant eviction order” issued to the stubborn Tenant.
  • The court, in turn, issues the “Tenant eviction order” 14 days prior to the court hearing. This notice is issued to the Tenant as well as the municipality with jurisdiction in the locality.
  • The court hearing happens when tenants must prove that their valid defense.
  • In case of a valid defense, a trial date is set. Without such a defense, the “warrant of eviction” is issued to the sheriff with instructions of getting the tenant’s items out of the premises.
  • The trial then starts, or the items are removed from the property.

This is one of the aspects of property law South African residents need to understand. Since not everyone can be a landlord, it is necessary to stay within the agreed limits or risk being thrown out.

Whenever you go out to rent a place, make sure you read and understand the lease agreement South Africa document before appending your signature. Do not let the excitement of finding your ideal place blind you from seeing the fine print.

What The Law Says

As already described, eviction notice in South Africa seems to be the legal way to deal with stubborn occupants. The big question, however, remains about who deals with the stubborn landlords? Not to worry. Tenants are also protected by law. Contrary to common belief, the PIE Act – as the Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act is not a tenant’s okay to do whatever they want and not risk eviction.

This law just protects residents from unlawful eviction but does not necessarily mean that they cannot be evicted. It only states that landlords would have to endure longer and painful waits if they fail to follow the procedures for eviction.

According to Section 26(3) of the constitution, arbitrary evictions are not permitted. No one’s home should be demolished, or their property was thrown out of a premise without a court order. After all, relevant factors have been looked into. What this means is that the court cannot just issue an eviction order because the landlord asked for one. This is how a tenant’s rights are protected against unruly landlords.

It should also be noted that PIE Act governs residential property evictions and not commercial, holiday, agricultural or industrial property. The law applies only if the property is used for residential accommodation. The same law defines an unlawful occupier of such residential and as:

“A person who occupies land without the express or tacit consent of the owner or person in charge, or without any other right in law to occupy such land, excluding a person who is an occupier in terms of the Extension of Security of Tenure Act, and excluding a person whose informal right to land, but for the provisions of this Act, would be protected by the provisions of the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act”.

How Do You Know That You Are An Unlawful Occupier?

You will be considered an unlawful occupier if:

  • You are a defaulting tenant whose lease has been canceled for one reason or another.
  • You are a defaulting mortgagor with a canceled bond and one whose property is been sold the process of execution;
  • You are a squatter; or
  • If you are a person that does not have express consent from the owner or lawfully authorized control of the premises.

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