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eviction attorney Johannesburg Archives | Eviction Lawyers South Africa

Investigation to be launched into Western Cape farm eviction

By | Eviction news, Eviction notice, Eviction orders, Evictions, Farm evictions, Lease Agreement

Ivan Cloete and Western Cape Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer on a tractor.

Ivan Cloete and Western Cape Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer on a tractor.
Supplied
  • Western Cape farmer Ivan Cloete is reportedly being evicted from his farm.
  • This is reportedly the third farm from which he is being evicted.
  • Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza’s office has confirmed they are looking into the matter.

An investigation will reportedly be launched into the eviction of a Western Cape farmer.

Farmer Ivan Cloete is being evicted from his farm in Darling, allegedly to make way for a land reform claim, the SABC has reported.

Western Cape Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer said despite productively working the land for more than a year, Cloete now faced being evicted from a third farm previously allocated to him by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD).

Meyer alleged the eviction was being carried out “to make way for an MK veteran”.

“Cloete is effectively being denied the security of tenure on Colenso, despite having been moved from previous farms twice through no fault of his own, but rather due to DALRRD’s failure to implement and manage land reform projects under its responsibly,” Meyer said.

“Despite having in October 2019 inform[ed] the Office of the Public Protector, it reached an agreement to relocate Cloete to Colenso farm. DALRRD also indicated that it had entered into a long-term lease agreement with Cloete.”

Meyer argued that Cloete should not be evicted, in line with Disaster Management Act regulations, and said he had written to Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Thoko Didiza.

According to IOL, Cloete was removed from his previous two farms due to differences with his partners. He was reportedly moved to his current farm for his own safety. He will reportedly be offered an alternative farm.

A spokesperson for Didiza confirmed to News24 that an investigation was under way “and we are expecting a report by end of the matter. The investigation will cover all the issues raised with regards to the first allocation to Mr Cloete until the last farm he is in.”

Sourced from News24

*Simon Dippenaar & Associates Inc. is a firm of specialist eviction lawyers in Cape Town, and operating 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 want to know the cost of eviction.

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Landlord of Parkview Units wants to evict 300 former Schubart Park residents

By | Eviction news, Eviction notice, Eviction orders, Evictions, Lease Agreement, Rent
A file picture of the Schubart Park complex. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)
A file picture of the Schubart Park complex. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Pretoria – The landlord of Parkview Units ‒ one of three housing complexes which have been accommodating former Schubart Park residents ‒ wants to evict the more than 300 people staying there.

At the centre of the storm is the reluctance by the City of Tshwane to increase the rent. It was also said that some residents were totally out of hand and vandalising the building.

The buildings have reportedly been vandalised to such an extent that it is becoming inhabitable and dangerous.

Singyung Investments turned to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, asking for an order that the City relocated the residents and that they, as the landlord, may evict the residents. The application is due to be heard this week.

According to the landlord, the agreement it reached with the City to house the Schubart Park residents, has long ago lapsed. The building owners said they were unable to manage the residents.

The company accused the residents of coming and going as they pleased, and that it was not clear who was legally there as part of the initial Schubart Park group, and who had simply moved in over the years.

It has meanwhile emerged from court papers that the City ‒ as per monthly invoice from the landlord ‒ is paying the landlord about R1 700 a month in rent per person staying there.

This is despite the uncertainty of how many of the original Schubart Park group are still staying there and whether the City is subsidising unknown people.

In an affidavit filed by the City, it emerged that for example, the invoice it received from the landlord for November 2019 was for 373 people. That month alone, the metro had to fork out R634 000 as well as R22 600 for security services.

While the landlord wants to get rid of the people, the City is opposing this, saying there is a tripartite agreement in place which the landlord must honour.

Singyung Investments is disputing this and said it is unable to manage the unruly elements. The City, in its papers, said as landlord the applicant was obliged to manage the building, including access control and other identifying measures to ensure that there were no illegal occupants.

The former Schubart Park residents were relocated to, among others, the Parkview Units after the four Schubart park buildings in the CBD became uninhabitable.

The buildings were hijacked by unauthorised people and a fire broke out. As it was too dangerous for them to continue living there, the City negotiated with the Schubart Park Residents Association to temporarily relocate them.

The City has, however, over the years, not yet refurbished the damaged buildings and it is unknown what will happen with the buildings, and when, or if, the residents will be able to move back.

Hercules Bye, who represents the landlord, said in an affidavit, it has become extremely difficult to control or identify the occupants, as they fluctuated and changed on a daily basis.

He said the vandalism was costing them a lot of money, and the rent the City is paying ‒ and refusing to increase ‒ is barely covering the running costs.

According to him, the initial agreement between the landlord and the City has in any way lapsed, which renders the occupying of the building by these residents unlawful.

But Simon Sithole of the City’s legal department said there is a tripartite lease agreement in place, which the landlord must honour.

He said issues regarding access to and control of the building formed part of the agreement as the City made it clear that it is not in a position to manage the building. Thus, he said, the landlord must keep tabs on who leaves and who stays in the building.

Sithole said the City cannot be blamed for the problems at the building, as it is paying the invoices in accordance with the lease agreement. As there is an agreement in place, the landlord also cannot evict the residents, he said.

Reprinted from IOL by Zelda Venter

Simon Dippenaar & Associates Inc. is a law firm in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, offering highly specialised eviction services to landlords, property agents, and investors. Our eviction lawyers represent legal interests with uncompromising dignity. For more on how to legally evict a tenant, click here. Contact one of our Cape Town lawyers, or other partners across South Africa, by calling 086 099 5146, or 076 116 0623, or email simon@sdlaw.co.za.

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Lockdown evictions – how have other countries responded?

By | Eviction news, Evictions

Is there anything South Africa can learn from rules governing eviction in other countries?

As the COVID-19 pandemic tightened its grip on the world’s economy, many tenants, both residential and commercial, found themselves unable to keep up with rent payments, through no fault of their own, due to loss of income. Workers in low-paid jobs and industries were sent home, with furlough in richer countries, empty-handed elsewhere. Unable to trade due to lockdowns, small businesses with little in the way of reserves found themselves shutting up shop. Fortunately, most governments responded with relief measures. Some, including the UK, paid workers in badly affected industries such as hospitality 80% of their normal wage. Here in South Africa we had TERS (Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme), although it has come under criticism.

Tenant protection from lockdown evictions

The protection of tenants from eviction was the most popular measure. Since mid-March 2020, many countries have suspended or banned evictions. In South Africa, evictions have not been allowed since the national state of disaster was announced at the end of March. When we reached Alert Level 1, evictions were once again permitted, but this was rescinded when we returned to Alert Level 3. A landlord may still apply for an eviction order, but it cannot be executed until the state of disaster is lifted.

This amnesty is primarily designed to protect tenants who fall into rent arrears as a result of the pandemic, though it also serves to ensure people have somewhere safe to spend the lockdown. An eviction may still be effected in extraordinary circumstances, for example if a tenant is causing harm to others or if the landlord has taken reasonable steps in good faith to make alternative arrangements for the evictees.  

Eviction bans

Other countries instituting eviction bans included Argentina, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Cyprus, El Salvador, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the USA. Most regulations referred to private residential property. However, in Germany and Portugal, tenants of residential and commercial properties were protected as well. France focused its protection on small and medium-sized companies.

France

In France, with her reputation for strong social support (and high social costs to employers), it is always illegal to evict people from their homes from November 1st to March 31st for any reason, to avoid literally putting people out in the cold. This winter reprieve was extended to July. The mayor of Paris further extended it until October 31st in the social housing sector. It is not clear if other municipalities followed suit, but the amnesty is in full force now, in the northern hemisphere winter.

Australia

On the first of April, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a nationwide moratorium on evictions for six months. When that expired, several states, including South Australia and Victoria, extended emergency relief for struggling residential and commercial tenants until the end of March 2021.

United Kingdom

The UK has devolved governments, so the rules vary between the four nations. In England and Wales, evictions were banned until 9th January. Given that England is back in nearly full lockdown due to the crushing second wave of COVID-19, housing charities say it makes a mockery of Boris Johnson’s “stay at home” message to lift the ban now. However, the minimum notice period for evicting a tenant is six months (doubled from three), due to remain in place until March 31st. In Wales, the notice period is also six months (other than for anti-social behaviour). In Northern Ireland, landlords must give at least 12 weeks’ notice to quit before applying for an eviction order.

And in Scotland, the temporary ban on eviction orders has been extended until the end of March, except for cases of anti-social behaviour and domestic violence. A six-month notice period is also in effect.

USA

In the United States, mortgage foreclosures were paused early in the pandemic. An eviction moratorium was also in place through late July 2020 that applied to federally funded rental units (generally occupied by the poorest in society). In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a nationwide moratorium on evictions that extended the protection to the majority of tenants in rented accommodation across the country.

Newly elected President Joe Biden has proposed an extension to the national moratorium until September 30th, and has earmarked funds for legal assistance to households facing eviction. Various states and cities have introduced their own measures. Back in March New York State, for example, enacted comprehensive emergency eviction and mortgage foreclosure moratoriums to protect renters and homeowners unable to pay rent or make mortgage payments. It recently signed into law the Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020, which protects residential tenants with COVID-19-related hardships, and homeowners and small landlords facing similar difficulties.

In practice…

What the law says and what happens on the ground are often two different matters. Despite our national ban on evictions, there was a series of high-profile lockdown evictions and shack demolitions by local authorities in the early days of the lockdown, particularly in Cape Town. Some of them were in response to illegal land invasions, but those invasions in their turn were often the result of the government’s failure to provide shelter to homeless communities

In Durban, several families, including pensioners, were evicted from a high-rise building. Loss of income meant tenants could only pay half or a portion of their rent. Despite a plan to repay the arrears and a meeting between landlord and ward councillor, the landlord removed tenants from 21 flats, defying the ban on evictions.

No ban can prevent landlords from taking matters into their own hands, as the Durban incident shows. There is a need for legal representation of tenants to ensure their rights are protected and landlords are held to account. The law can only be enforced if breaches are notified to the relevant authorities. Tenants often feel powerless to do this themselves.

We have good laws…

We just need to enforce them. Our official response to the social crisis caused by the pandemic, at least in terms of rental housing, is on a par with our global counterparts. The data is not available to show how we measure up in practice. It’s fair to assume that unscrupulous landlords exist everywhere, and how much they may have got away with will depend on the scrutiny of the housing sector exercised in their respective jurisdictions. 

We support our social justice organisations and other champions of vulnerable and marginalised individuals and communities in calling for all landlords to abide by the regulations and exercise commercial ubuntu in dealing with tenants struggling with rental payments.

Contact Cape Town eviction attorney today

Whether you are tenant or landlord, if you have questions or concerns about lockdown evictions, any aspect of the Alert Level 3 rules or your individual situation, contact SD Law for a confidential discussion. SD Law is a law firm in Cape Town of specialist eviction attorneys and we will explain your rights and responsibilities and help you act with commercial ubuntu. Contact Simon now on 086 099 5146 or email him on info@sdlaw.co.za.

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