Landlords are understandably stressed about outstanding rental payments that are due from a tenant. Tenants living rent-free can lead to huge problems for landlords as most rely on these payments to meet other financial obligations.

Fortunately, all hope is not lost as there is recourse that landlords can take in order to receive their money and ensure that stress levels are not soaring.

What should a landlord do with a non-paying tenant?

The first step that one should take in the unfortunate situation of a non-paying tenant is to look at the lease agreement. Most importantly, the landlord must look at the payment clause together with the breach clause.

The payment clause usually stipulates an amount and a date by which payments should be made. This enables the landlord to prove that the tenant is in breach. The breach clause usually provides that in the event of non-payment, the landlord has the right to take certain actions, such as claiming specific performance or cancelling the agreement. The breach clause usually also sets out the amount of time that the landlord needs to afford the tenant to remedy the breach, before the landlord may take action.

In the event that the notice period ends and the tenant has not remedied the breach, the landlord will have the right to take further action.

What to do when the lease agreement is in breach

In the event that the lease agreement is cancelled due to a breach and the tenant fails to vacate the property, the aggrieved landlord will have the option of evicting the tenant. This can only be done by approaching the court to apply for an eviction order. Our attorneys have outlined the eviction process here.

How to evict a tenant

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.

Consult an attorney for legal recourse with a non-paying tenant

Non-paying tenants may cause many problems for landlords however, it is clear that an aggrieved landlord has recourse and will not be short of options. Our attorneys have considerable experience with non-paying tenants, breached lease agreements, evictions and recovery of arrear rentals – please contact us to assist.  

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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.