“The relation of landlord and tenant is not an ideal one, but all relations in a social order will endure if there is infused into them some of that spirit of human sympathy which qualifies life for immortality.” George William Russell
“COVID-19” has brought about numerous changes in the way one should conduct their affairs, more specifically their financial affairs. Layoffs, salary reductions, if not a complete loss, and foreclosure of businesses contributing to these constraints. These constraints result in tenants concerning themselves on how payment of their monthly rental will be made and landlords, in turn, becoming overwhelmed with their own expenses, especially if this rental is a vital source of income to cover those expenses.
With our honorable president Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa placing our country on a level 1 state of lockdown, the question that lingers before both tenant and landlord is: are evictions permissible? Well, this article will provide a brief guideline to this question:
- Evictions are allowed but only with granting of a court order,
- There should be justifiable reasons for the granting of the court order.
- Courts have the power to suspend eviction orders until a time to be determined.
- The Rental Housing Tribunal has new powers to urgently restore occupation and/or services to tenants deprived of either, by the landlord.
*Landlords should refrain from disconnecting a tenant’s electricity and water supply if they are found to be in arrears, this is restricted in terms of the regulations laid down, nevertheless, landlords should not fret, since with due notice and the procedural aspects being observed, this will be permitted, quite contradictory I must add in relation to the regulations but the “Eskom Holdings SOC Limited v Masinda” case justifies this approach.
It ought to be noted that courts are very reluctant to grant eviction orders so easily, since “Section 26 of the Constitution” protects the right to housing, and with “Covid-19” bringing about financial constraints a favorable case would have to be put forth showing cause as to why the eviction would be justifiable in these present circumstances.
The Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998 (“PIE”) and the procedures stated therein will need to find full compliance before a court can even consider an eviction order, to this end legal advice should always be sought when faced with an eviction debacle since you could find yourself in extensive legal proceedings before you can be granted the order you seek, thus mediation taking the form of a settlement amongst tenant and landlord should be initiated before the legal route is implemented, cognisance is also given to the fact that if you do have a pleasant tenant who always upholds their contractual obligations pertaining to the lease agreement a sympathetic perspective should be advanced.
It is best to seek the assistance of an attorney who specialises in this field.
Contributor: Kyle Pillay (assisted by Thato Mokone Senior Associate)
Designation: Candidate Attorney