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High Court grants City of Cape Town final eviction order

By | Eviction news, Evictions, Homeless

Reprinted from News24, by Marvin Charles – 2024-02-15

The Western Cape High Court has granted a final eviction order in the City of Cape Town’s application to remove homeless people living around Culemborg in the Cape Town CBD.

These areas are in the vicinity of the Nelson Mandela Boulevard intersection with Hertzog Boulevard, Old Marine Drive, and Christiaan Barnard Bridge.

The order includes a standing interdict against any further unlawful occupation of these areas and other City-owned public spaces identified in the order.

In February last year, the court granted the City an interim order for eviction notices to be served at unlawful occupation hotspots along Buitengracht Street, FW de Klerk Boulevard, Foregate Square, Taxi Rank and Foreshore, Helen Suzman Boulevard, Strand Street, Foreshore/N1, Virginia Avenue and Mill Street Bridge.

Over the past few years, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and national lockdown, the number of destitute residents has increased.

The Cape Town CBD, specifically, has seen a sharp increase in people sleeping rough.

The High Court said the City should provide alternative accommodation at its Safe Spaces, and that those who intended taking up alternative accommodation should let the City know no later than 7 March.

It also ordered that the homeless people should vacate the property by 14 March.

“In the event that the respondents [the homeless] fail or refuse to vacate the affected areas of the property, the sheriff and person appointed by the police to the extent necessary, is authorised and directed to from 15 March 2024 to 15 June 2024 to eject the respondents from the affected areas of the property,” it ordered.

The court also authorised the demolishing and removal of structures unlawfully occupied by people should they refuse to vacate.

In a statement, the City said: “The final eviction order for the Culemborg area follows efforts over time by the City to offer social assistance and care interventions to those persons unlawfully occupying public spaces in the area, which is close to City-run Safe Space facilities offering dignified transitional shelter and social programmes to assist people off the streets sustainably.

“Safe Spaces aim to reintegrate people into society, and reunite them with family. Personal development planning and employment opportunities are made available, as are referrals for mental health, medical, and substance abuse treatment.”

For further information

Simon Dippenaar & Associates, Inc. is a law firm of specialist eviction lawyers in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. We help landlords and tenants maintain healthy working relationships. Contact one of our eviction attorneys on 086 099 5146 or simon@sdlaw.co.za if you need help with tenants’ rights or landlords’ responsibilities.

Further reading:

Hundreds evicted from buildings in Cape Town city centre

By | Eviction news, Homeless

Reprinted from CapeTownetc.com, by of GroundUp – 2024-01-28

Piles of suitcases, mattresses and items of furniture were strewn across the narrow Commercial Street in Cape Town on Wednesday and Thursday.

Hundreds of people, most of whom are foreign nationals, were evicted from three buildings in the city centre.

The area outside 42 and 44 Commercial Street was in chaos on Wednesday as dozens of South African Police Service (SAPS) officers and immigration officials cordoned off the street where the occupiers remained with their belongings. The occupied buildings are in close proximity to Parliament.

According to Western Cape SAPS spokesperson Malcolm Pojie, more than 100 undocumented people were transported to Epping Immigration Office for verification. ‘All other persons who illegally occupied the building were informed to vacate the premises with immediate effect,’ he said.

The occupiers were reportedly served with eviction notices from March 2023. A court order which was granted on 31 August 2023, stated: ‘The first to 265 respondents are ordered to vacate property situated at 44 to 48 Commercial Street, Cape Town, Western Cape by no later than December 31, 2023.’

The August court order was granted a few days after a fire in one of the buildings that was caused due to an electrical fault.

The court also said that if the occupiers do not vacate, then the sheriff and SAPS are authorised to remove the group with their belongings.

When we arrived on Wednesday, the occupiers — some standing with bags filled with their belongings — had been told to wait outside while officials went into the buildings to remove their belongings.

One of the occupiers, Pearl Myekeni, said she received an eviction notice in March.

Myekeni said they were told that the landlord to whom they were paying rent had apparently not been paying the owner of the building. The owner then terminated the contract. ‘We ended up collecting R26,000 from the tenants, each tenant contributed about R300. I didn’t participate so I was told that I can’t sleep here.’

She said slept at her boyfriend’s house on Wednesday night. Myekeni has been living in the building since September 2022.

She said she has had her belongings packed in boxes since December in anticipation of being evicted.

Another tenant, who did not want to give her name, claimed that ‘more than a thousand’ people were living in the buildings. ‘About four months ago after finding out that the landlords were not paying the owner of these buildings, we got rid of them and we haven’t been paying rent to anyone ever since then.’

Azubuike Kanu, who said he has lived in one of the buildings for more than five years, told GroundUp that he sent his wife and children to live in the Eastern Cape in December in anticipation of the eviction.

‘We were violently taken out of the building [on Wednesday]. We were transported in a truck to Langa Home Affairs to check whether we are here illegally or not. Some were arrested. They drove me to Mowbray and I had to find my own way back here,’ said Kanu.

Kanu spent the night outside on the pavement again on Thursday because he has nowhere else to go.

Cape Town lawyer Junaid Jamat told GroundUp that he is representing 120 of the occupants. ‘We were made aware of the issue last week Friday, but the occupants had no funds for the case to be handled.’ He said by the time the residents had collected funds on Tuesday, it was too late to oppose the eviction in the High Court.

‘Unfortunately, by Wednesday morning the Sheriff and the police were already there evicting the people, so we were too late,’ he said.

GroundUp contacted the Department of Home Affairs for additional information on the arrested immigrants on Wednesday afternoon. No comment was given by the time of publication.

For further information

Simon Dippenaar & Associates, Inc. is a law firm of specialist eviction lawyers in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. We help landlords and tenants maintain healthy working relationships. Contact one of our eviction attorneys on 086 099 5146 or simon@sdlaw.co.za if you need help with tenants’ rights or landlords’ responsibilities.

Further reading:

How to evict non-paying tenants

By | Evictions, Rent, Tenants

Evicting a non-paying tenant is a legal matter that should be handled to avoid incurring losses. This is how an eviction can be done.

Reprinted from citizen.co.za, by Kayla Ferguson – 2024-01-23

While it can be a lengthy process to evict tenants who fail to pay their rent, there are procedures in place to make sure that both the tenants’ and the landlords’ rights are protected. Following the necessary steps is key to a hassle-free eviction process.

Legal provisions

Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa explains that both the tenant and the landlord must play fair with respect to their rental agreement.

“It is crucial to abide by the contractual agreements and, if not, to then proceed with the required legal procedures stipulated in this regard. It is only when people deviate from this that issues start to occur,” he notes.

Tenants are protected by two pieces of legislation, namely: the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from Unlawful Occupation of Land Act, No. 19 of 1998 (PIE Act), and the Rental Housing Act of 1999 (RHAct) as amended. The first sets out the process for evicting tenants, and the second makes it a criminal offence for a landlord to simply cut the supply of electricity or water, change the locks, confiscate tenants’ belongings, or stop a tenant from having access to the property.

“It is vital to always play by the rules. While you might think you can get a non-paying tenant out quicker if you change the locks or defer to other intimidation tactics, the truth is that this will most likely only provide the tenant with ammunition to use against you in the court proceedings. This will only drag things out further and cause more unnecessary complications and delays,” says Goslett.

Although it might be forgivable for the odd late payment if it’s a bank or financial system-related problem, a landlord cannot be so lenient if their tenant gets into the habit of paying their rent late.

How to go about the eviction

“Because the monthly payment date forms part of the rental agreement – which must also comply with the Consumer Protection Act – when a tenant doesn’t pay on time, they are technically in breach of contract. Legally, this means that a landlord should send the tenant a formal letter explaining that they have 20 business days to make the payment, and if they don’t pay their rent in that time, their lease will be cancelled,” Goslett explains.

If the tenant fails to pay what is due within the stipulated timeframe, the landlord can legally terminate the lease and ask them to leave. If the tenant refuses, the landlord can then take out a court order to evict the tenant for breach of contract.

“This process can take up to six months, during which your tenant can stay in your property and will probably still not pay rent. Once the eviction is granted, the tenant is usually given at least another 14 days to find new accommodation before the eviction order is executed,” says Goslett.

Because the eviction process can be so lengthy, Goslett suggests taking steps as soon as possible to prevent too great a loss of income. “The longer you take to act on a late or missed payment, the longer it will be before you can legally evict a tenant who continues to miss payments.”

To guard against this, landlords are encouraged to work with a professional RE/MAX rental agent who can thoroughly screen potential tenants and minimise the risk of late or missed payments.

“It can be tempting to go it alone in the mistaken belief that handling the property rental yourself will save you money. Also, when we’ve found the perfect tenant, it’s impossible to think that something might go wrong – until it does. It is better to get expert help from the very beginning than to try and navigate these challenges on your own,” Goslett concludes.

For more information on evicting a non-paying tenant

Simon Dippenaar & Associates, Inc. is a law firm of specialist eviction lawyers in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. We help landlords and tenants maintain healthy working relationships. Contact one of our eviction attorneys on 086 099 5146 or simon@sdlaw.co.za if you need help evicting a non-paying tenant.

Further reading: