Tenants out in the cold after landlord evicts them for unpaid rent

Tenants evicted for unpaid rent. In our blog we have covered the lockdown rules at some length, particularly as they pertain to evictions. Although an eviction case can be commenced under level 3 regulations, no eviction orders may be executed. Yet some landlords are not behaving within the law. Given the very cold conditions experienced in Gauteng at present, and the rapid increase in COVID-19 infections, this is particularly irresponsible and uncaring social conduct. 

Reprinted from the SowetanLive, by Noxolo Majavu 2020-07-14

Tenants evicted for unpaid rent
Residents say they are being intimidated by their landlord. Image: 123RF/ANDRIY POPOV

Residents of Bramley in Johannesburg are scouting for homes after their landlord evicted them because of unpaid rent. The tenants are mostly foreign nationals and restaurant workers and bartenders that do not receive much of an income during lockdown.

The tenants alleged that they were victimised by the property owner weeks before the eviction because of not being able to afford rent.

“My wife was forced to write a letter saying that she is moving out voluntarily out of the premises, and was threatened to sleep in the room with two men,” said Caswell Chauke.

Chauke said he went to a funeral and when he came back, he could not get into his room because it was locked. “The property owner told me that I will not get my belongings and furniture until I pay,” said Chauke.

“They locked us in the yard like prisoners, we tried to negotiate with the landlord but she would not listen,” said another tenant, Reginald Malatsi.

The tenants opened a case of intimidation at the Bramley police station after they were threatened by bouncers sent by the landlord to demand money. Two of the bouncers got arrested but were released the next morning. “When we went to inquire about the case we were told that there was not enough evidence and so the case was closed,” said Chauke .

Sowetan tried to contact the property owner, Ester Bughai, but she said that she did not have time to comment. National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindile Mjonodwane showed Sowetan the case docket in question.

Tahir Seema, a representative from the Gauteng Rental Tribunal, said: No evictions can take place with or without a court order during the lockdown period. This is in terms of lockdown regulations.”

Seema added that evictions done without a court order are illegal and the tenants are welcomed to lodge a complaint with the Gauteng Rental Housing Tribunal (RHT) for urgent relief.

“Complaints in this regard can be lodged via the RHT central email address – rentaltribunal@gauteng.gov.za. Once the matter is heard a ruling will be issued by the RHT that is equal to that of a magistrate’s court,” Seema added.

Are you facing unlawful eviction?

Simon Dippenaar & Associates, Inc. is a firm of specialist eviction lawyers, based in Cape Town and now operating in Johannesburg and Durban, helping both landlords and tenants with the eviction process. Contact one of our attorneys on 086 099 5146 or sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za if you need advice on the eviction process or if you are facing unlawful eviction.

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