Evictions in South Africa have been a contentious issue for many years, with a significant number of people facing displacement from their homes due to various reasons such as non-payment of rent, illegal occupation, or the need for land for development purposes.
The problem has been exacerbated by the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left many people struggling to make ends meet and unable to keep up with their rental payments.
High number of evictions monthly in SA
According to a report by the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI), an estimated 10,000 people are evicted from their homes in South Africa every week. This figure is based on a survey of 20 of South Africa’s largest cities, which found that there were over 250,000 eviction cases between 2014 and 2018. The majority of these evictions were due to non-payment of rent, followed by illegal occupation.
The problem of evictions has also been compounded by the lack of affordable housing in South Africa, with many people forced to live in overcrowded and substandard accommodation. According to the National Housing Finance Corporation, South Africa has a housing backlog of over 2.3 million units, with an estimated 13.6 million people living in inadequate housing.
The landlord’s position
On the other end of the spectrum sits the average landlord, being a person who has invested in a property, often incurring personal debt in the form of a bond or loan, in the hope of seeing a return on the investment in the form of monthly rental payments.
The failure by tenants to pay rent often has a disastrous impact on this category of landlord, who is then stuck with all of the monthly payments, without receiving any of the returns.
What the courts say
The Courts in South Africa have luckily consistently found that it is not the responsibility of private persons to provide free accommodation to tenants or occupiers where government has failed to provide adequate alternative accommodation. This was again confirmed in the recent Judgment by the Constitutional Court in the matter of Grobler v Phillips & others CCT 243/21, where the Court held that it was important to balance the rights of the parties, and granted the eviction order in favour of the landlord.
Landlords can thus, for now, take comfort in knowing that by following the correct legal procedures, they are likely to be successful in court when up against illegal occupiers.
Speak to an attorney
Evictions are done in terms of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (PIE). The landlord must give the tenant notice of the eviction in writing and this must be served personally on the unlawful occupier/s of the property, as well as on the municipality situated in the area of the occupied property. In addition to applying for the tenant’s eviction, the landlord will be entitled to issue summons for the recovery of any arrear rental.
An aggrieved landlord has legal recourse and options to choose from. Our or Litigation and Dispute Resolution attorneys have considerable experience with non-paying tenants, breached lease agreements, evictions and recovery of arrear rentals – please contact us to assist.
For Litigation and Dispute Resolution expertise
The articles on these web pages are provided for general information purposes only. Whilst care has been taken to ensure accuracy, the content provided is not intended to stand alone as legal advice. Always consult a suitably qualified attorney on any specific legal problem or matter.