5 key terms for understanding the Prevention of Illegal Eviction Act


The Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act, 1998, is often thought of as being biased towards to tenants or occupiers. However, the full Act has been carefully crafted using South Africa’s constitution in order to protect both sides of the coin.
PIE was created specifically to ensure that the rights of all South Africans are taken into account when it comes to land and living arrangements. Our country’s constitution states that “No one may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances. No legislation may permit arbitrary evictions.”
Getting to grips with how PIE works for you
Here are several key terms used in the Prevention of Illegal Eviction Act:

  1. Eviction procedure – There is a set list of procedures prescribed for three different groups in South Africa, namely private owners, organs of state and urgent applications. The basic steps that all three groups must follow are: giving notice to the tenant that you plan to apply to the court, an application must then be sent to the court who will, in turn, notify the tenant or occupier of the hearing date. Only after this hearing will a judge decide if an eviction is “just and equitable” according to our constitution.
  2. Written notice – There are two sets of written notice that must be given for a lawful eviction to be considered. Firstly, the landlord must send notice to the tenant that they intend to take legal action. Secondly, the court will then provide notice of the hearing date to the tenant. This second notice must happen at least 14 days before the court date.
  3. Urgent application – The courts will only accept an urgent application in cases where it is obvious that either the tenant or the landlord are in immediate danger. Another possibility for an urgent application is if the owner will suffer – physically or financially – more if the occupier stays than the occupier would if they get evicted.
  4. Unlawful occupier – This is anyone who occupies a piece of land that doesn’t belong to them, and without the express or tacit permission of the owner. It’s important to note that tacit permission is when the owner or person in charge of the land is aware of the unlawful occupier but doesn’t stop them from living there immediately.
  5. Sheriff of the court – If the court has decided that an eviction is called for, the only person who can implement this is the sheriff of the court. Once this officer has served the notice of eviction, it is also their responsibility to ensure that the tenants or occupiers leave by the correct date.

Speak to Simon about your rights within the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act, 1998.