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eviction lawyer Archives | Eviction Lawyers South Africa

Red Ants back on the eviction march as court lifts suspension

By | Eviction news, Eviction notice, Eviction orders

The Red Ants will be back on the march after their suspension, regarding evictions and demolitions, was lifted partly on the grounds of protecting the jobs of up to 12 000 employees, the company said.

The Red Ants Security Relocation and Eviction Services’ right to undertake these operations as well as guard duty was suspended by the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSiRA) on June 6 and 7 after complaints over four of its operations – one being the controversial Alexandra demolitions. 

On May 31, 2019, the company moved to demolish about 80 homes in Setshwetla, Alexandra, which the City of Johannesburg had considered unsafe because they were built too close to a river. At the time, two bonded houses were set alight in retaliation.

Questions were raised over who had ordered the demolitions.

The City later clarified that the instruction had come from the Johannesburg Metro Police Department. The demolitions were swiftly followed by the #AlexShutdown protests after residents complained that problems in the area were being ignored.

There were also evictions in the Ramaphosa informal settlement in Vereeniging, Gauteng, on April 10, 2019, Lenasia South on September 22, 2017 and Ivory Park in Tembisa on May 22, 2017.

On September 22, 2017, two people were killed as the Red Ants tried to clear land in Lenasia South

In a statement at the time, they denied being responsible for the deaths, saying residents had stoned their employees, which resulted in some of them being injured. 

The Red Ants were also accused of allowing non-security officers to demolish property without a court order, and in the absence of a Sheriff of the Court.

They were accused of theft, malicious damage to property, grievous bodily harm and unlawfully firing a weapon in a public area.

Their name was added to a long list of suspended companies posted on PSiRA’s website.

However, the company brought a High Court application against the PSiRA to lift the suspension so that they could continue to work. It, however, opposed the application. 

On October 19, the court ruled that the company be allowed to continue its work after hearing that it had been issued a new PSiRA certificate for the period September 2019 to 2020, according to a court order News24 has seen.

The court also noted up to 12 000 jobs at the company were on the line, and that lawyers were beginning to demand their money back regarding evictions and demolitions that had not taken place as expected.

The court found that courts themselves were starting to look bad because they were issuing eviction orders that could not be carried out. The sheriffs were also taking flak for not executing the orders and getting the Red Ants in.

Usually the person applying for the eviction pays for the Red Ants’ services, and it can run into the hundreds of thousands of rand to evict people from large properties, such as open land or a large block of flats.

“Given the severely restrained economic climate in South Africa, where thousands of people are retrenched every month and millions are unemployed, it is clear to me that the factors of irreparable harm and balance of convenience favour the applicants,” the judgment read.

It noted there were sheriffs with nine “long-overdue evictions” and 22 “long-overdue removals” that still needed to be executed.

The Red Ants are also the sole provider to 11 municipalities to safekeep strategic and key state assets as well as government-owned land, which includes key points.

The PSiRA granted the Red Ants permission to continue with security services only when they questioned the suspension, and they had to apply on a case-by-case basis to undertake evictions and demolitions.

In the judgment, it was stated that they were turned down regarding permission for several orders granted in Simon’s Town, Cape Town. 

“In the circumstances, we are therefore lawfully permitted to carry out operations as a security service provider which include evictions, demolitions, and the like,” a statement from the Red Ants said.

Comment from the PSiRA was not immediately available, and will be added when received.

Originally featured on News24

*Simon Dippenaar & Associates, Inc. is a law firm in Cape Town, now operating in Gauteng and Durban, of specialised eviction attorneys, helping both landlords and tenants with the eviction process. Contact one of our eviction lawyers on +27 (0) 86 099 5146 or info@sdlaw.co.za if you have been evicted unlawfully.

Further reading:

Mob Eviction in Alexandra

Court Declares Shack Eviction Unlawful

Durban Evictions

Johannesburg Shacks Demolished by Red Ants

Gauteng Government in Court over Land Invasions

Red Ants Continue to Disregard Due Process of Law

Police and Developers Blame Each Other

‘Mob eviction’ in Alexandra leaves family terrified after husband ‘hit with axe’

By | Eviction news, Evictions
Gibson Mzizi, Melissa Mzizi's husband, was attacked with an ax by a mob who forcefully evicted the family in Alexandra.

Gibson Mzizi, Melissa Mzizi’s husband, was attacked with an axe by a mob who forcefully evicted the family in Alexandra. (Chris Yelland)

An Alexandra resident, Melissa Mzizi, says the police are doing little to help her get her family’s RDP house back after a group of 40 people allegedly attacked her husband and occupied their home.

On Saturday, the group reportedly attacked the family in an attempt to kick them out of the home. Mzizi’s husband was taken to hospital after he was hit in the head with an axe.

Alexandra police have since arrested five people. The rest remain in the house.

Reprinted from News 24. By Azarrah Karrim 2019-09-23

If you have been wrongfully evicted or are experiencing harassment in your home, contact us for help. Simon Dippenaar & Associates Inc. (aka SDLAW) is a law firm in Cape Town, now offering services in Johannesburg and Durban. We are expert eviction attorneys with deep experience in rental property and eviction law, and we uphold the rights of both parties without bias. Contact Simon on 086 099 5146 or email sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za to discuss your case in confidence.

Further reading:

R300,000 to be rid of squatters on his property

Family live on busy roadside for three weeks after eviction from wine farm

SDLAW acts for successful Heathfield eviction

Land occupation processes to come under spotlight in Vrygrond case

Evicted families stuck in Paarl caravan park for a year

No lease? No problem. Tenants still have rights

By | Eviction orders, Evictions, Lease Agreement, Rental Housing Act

Rental housing legislation provides tenants with protection, whether or not there is a written lease

Landlords must follow the legal procedure for eviction. Know your rights as a tenant.

It’s not best practice, but it often happens that a landlord and tenant do not have a written lease agreement. In the digital age, when everything is captured online and on cell phones, it is understandable to assume this means there is no lease. However, the Rental Housing Act does not require a lease to be in writing, although it is strongly advised. A verbal agreement between the parties constitutes a lease agreement, even if that conversation consists of no more than a statement of the monthly rent and the amount of time the property may be occupied.

So when we talk about “no lease”, what we really mean is no written lease. And, although the tenant still has rights under the law, the absence of clarity surrounding the terms and conditions of the tenancy can lead to disputes and confusion. But it does not mean the eviction process is any less stringent.

One reason why a tenant might not have a lease

There are two scenarios in which the tenant might not have a written rental agreement, and the eviction process is slightly different in each case. The first is where the landlord and tenant have agreed the terms of the occupancy informally, and perhaps shaken hands on the deal. They may be friends or family members with a harmonious enough relationship to consider a legal document unnecessary, or the property may be a cottage in the garden of a homeowner who takes an informal approach to letting it out. This won’t be permitted for much longer, as we will come on to, but at present it is not uncommon.

Another reason for no lease

The second scenario is where a lease has expired, but the tenant has the landlord’s permission to remain in the property on a month-to-month basis. In some countries this is called a “tenant-at-will”. This might occur because a tenant has purchased a property and is waiting on an entry date; or the property owner is planning to sell and does not want to commit to a lengthy lease period but is happy for the tenant to occupy the property while seeking alternative accommodation. Or there may be minor breaches to the lease that are not serious enough to cause the landlord to evict but nonetheless they do not wish to renew the lease. The tenant may be allowed a few extra months on a month-to-month basis to avoid homelessness while seeking alternative accommodation.

Implied leases

If a lease expires and the tenant continues to pay rent, and the landlord continues to accept it, without spelling out the conditions noted above, they have effectively created a new, implied lease. There are also certain fixed-term leases that become implied month-to-month leases after expiry, in terms of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA). By law, the payment and acceptance of rent after the official end of the lease implies that a new lease has been agreed.

Eviction with a verbal lease

The eviction process where there is a verbal lease is identical to the process for a written lease. The Prevention of Illegal Eviction Act from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act, No 19 of 1998 (PIE Act) ensures that landlords follow a clearly defined set of actions, and there must be due cause. No one can be evicted without reason or notice. There must be a breach of the lease agreement. In the absence of a written document setting out the conditions of the tenancy, the most common breach is non-payment of rent. This is the one contractual obligation a tenant has that cannot be disputed. Some landlords may be willing to forgive a late payment or two, but this is a matter for personal discretion. Legally, if the rent is not paid on the date it is due, a breach has occurred. In the first instance, the tenant is given the opportunity to rectify the breach. The landlord serves notice to the tenant to this effect, and then if the breach is not rectified, the landlord can terminate the lease contract.

The landlord must give notice of the intention to evict the tenant through the courts. The eviction order will give a date for a court hearing, at which the tenant may offer a defence. If there is a valid defence, a trial date will be set. In the absence of such a defence, the court issues a warrant of eviction to the Sheriff. Note that only a Sheriff is authorised to remove a tenant or a tenant’s possessions from a property.

Month-to-month or open-ended leases

The landlord must give the tenant “reasonable” notice of termination of the lease. A calendar month’s notice will satisfy the 20 business days required by the CPA and is considered reasonable. There does not have to be any breach of an agreement. If the tenant fails to vacate the property at the end of the calendar month, as requested, then the landlord can begin the eviction process described above.

Time’s running out

Soon this advice will be irrelevant. The Rental Housing Amendment Act 35 of 2014 will require  landlords to provide tenants with a written lease agreement. Verbal agreements will no longer be binding. The Rental Housing Amendment Act will apply immediately to new lease agreements and landlords will have six months to bring existing agreements in line with the new legislation. At the time of writing, the Act has not yet been gazetted and a commencement date has not been announced. We will keep readers of this blog informed.

Seek the guidance of an expert eviction lawyer

If you are a tenant without a written lease and would like to discuss your circumstances, or if you are a landlord needing to draw up a formal lease agreement, contact Simon on 086 099 5146 or email sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za to discuss your case in confidence. Eviction lawyers Johannesburg and Cape Town are experts in rental property and eviction law, and we uphold the rights of both parties without bias.