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Eviction notice Archives | Eviction Lawyers South Africa

Can a landlord evict you without 30 day notice?

By | Eviction notice

Eviction notice 30 days

Can a landlord evict you without a 30 day notice?

A frequently asked question by landlords and tenants alike is whether a landlord can evict a tenant without a 30 day notice?

The short answer is: no; but it depends.

To elaborate:

One cannot evict anyone without proper legal notification.

This means that one must notify a tenant in writing of any intention to evict them.

This notice needs to be delivered to the tenant, usually at the property.

The manner of service of the notice matters.

We recommend that you serve a legal notification by at least registered mail to the property, and hand deliver to the tenant at the property, with a witness.

If the tenant refuses to accept the notice, or is not at the property at the time of hand delivery, then once can affix the notice to the boundary gate, or front door.

Take a photograph of this, and depose to a service affidavit to this effect, with the witness also confirming this, by means of a confirmatory affidavit.

This can be done at the local South African police station, law firm, or with any duly authorised South African commissioner of oaths.

These delivery tactics will ensure you generate sufficient evidence of delivery.

There can be no question regarding giving proper notice.

Some times a landlord will WhatsApp or email the notice; this is not sufficient in our opinion.

If one goes to court to get an eviction order, a Judge/Magistrate wants to see evidence that an owner/landlord has notified the occupier/tenant of their intention to effect.

While an occupier may acknowledge receipt of notices send electronically, it has been our experience that courts want more than this.

If you do not give proper notice, and launch a court application, you may get to court, and have your matter dismissed because you failed to properly attend to this important pre-court step.

This will waste a lot of time and money.

Since eviction applications involve constitutional rights to adequate housing, a fundamental right, courts are conservative when ordering any infringement of this right.

At the very least, they want to see that the pre court procedures have been followed.

No Judge will order an eviction, if an occupier has not been adequately notified of circumstances negatively affecting their rights to housing.

Different circumstances require different notice periods, but in general, one needs to give 30 days notice before approaching court.

It is insufficient to just send a notice, which is essentially a letter, wait for the time to expire, and then remove the occupier yourself.

At the end of the notice period, that is the time to apply to court for a court order.

You will need the help of an experienced eviction lawyer to do this.

The process is too technical, and if one tries to do it oneself, one will make mistakes that will cost even more time and money.

The eviction process, post notification stage, involves drafting and serving various affidavits, and approaching court on at least two occasions; more if the matter is opposed.

In our next article we will discuss the difference between an unopposed and an opposed eviction.

In conclusion, one cannot evict without a 30 day notice. If you try do this, you may act illegally, and may face serious negative legal consequences.

Email Simon at sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za for more about what to do and not do to successfully navigate the eviction process.

Further reading

Glen Marikana residents ready for their first day of relocation

By | Eviction news, Eviction notice, Eviction orders, Evictions

Current structures that will be left behind after the relocation will be destroyed by the City.

eviction notice eviction lawyers

Residents of Glen Marikana Informal Settlement will be relocated to a new site in Putfontein as from today [Monday, 24 Feb].

This follows an eviction order granted by the Johannesburg High Court in November 2018, instructing the City of Ekurhuleni to seek an alternative residential site for the close to 3 000 residents who had illegally occupied private land on Dann Road in Glen Marais since 2017.

Member of Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Human Settlements, Clr Lesiba Mpya, announced the relocation date during a meeting with the affected households recently.

“Our role as a responsible government is to comply with the court order and move our people to a safe and secure place. We are currently engaged in a verification process to ensure that every occupant’s name is the one that appears in the court order,” Mpya  said.

The MMC also said work began in earnest in reblocking the new site so that when the new occupants arrive, they have access roads and stand pipes, including ablution facilities.

“We will provide transportation for the residents to make sure they settle well at their new site which they would call home,” he said.

Current structures that will be left behind after the relocation will be destroyed by the City.

Samuel Motshali, one of those affected dwellers, said: “I am originally from Limpopo and I have been here for the past three years after losing my job and couldn’t afford to pay rent.”

Community leader Kwena Monama said people would start packing their belonging on Saturday in readiness for the relocation on Monday.

“We are constantly communicating with the MMC’s office and we are ready to be moved to our new site,” he said.

Reprinted from Kempton Express – 2020-02-24. Emphasis/links by SD Law.

If you need help with an eviction matter…

We are eviction lawyers in Cape Town and Johannesburg. We act for both landlords and tenants and uphold the rights of each to a fair and satisfactory tenancy. If you are a landlord, we will make sure any eviction you undertake is fair and lawful. If you are a tenant and facing an unfair eviction, we will defend your rights. Contact Simon at Cape Town Eviction Attorneys on 086 099 5146 or email sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za.

Further reading:

When and how to sue a tenant

By | Eviction notice, Evictions, Lease Agreement, Rent, Rental Housing Act

Is it worth your while to sue your tenant for rent arrears or other costs?

To sue or not to sue for rent arrears and other costs? Know the pros and cons.

There are many ways in which a tenant can breach the terms of the lease, triggering the eviction process, but by far the most common is non-payment of rent. While you may succeed in evicting the non-paying tenant, eviction itself may not result in settlement of the outstanding debt. To recover your rental arrears, you may have to take to the courts and sue your tenant. 

Why you might sue your tenant

Unpaid rent is the most obvious and the most common cause for litigation, but there are several other reasons why you might need to bring court action against your tenant or former tenant. Here is a fairly comprehensive list of grounds for a lawsuit, but there could be others.

  1. Unpaid rent: By law, if your tenant fails to pay the rent on time, you must notify them of your intention to cancel the lease and give them 20 working days to rectify the breach. If they fail to do so, then you can apply to the court for an eviction notice. Remember only the Sheriff can evict a tenant. However, you can sue them for the unpaid rent.
  2. Unpaid utility billsIf the tenant vacates the property, either via eviction or lease cancellation, any outstanding utility bills in the tenant’s name can be recovered. The first option is the security deposit. However, this may be inadequate to cover the amount owing.
  3. Damage to the property: Inspection of the property at the beginning and end of the lease is a vital step you must not overlook. You will only be able to claim that a tenant has caused damage to your property if you have conducted a thorough inspection and compared the moving-out state with the condition of the unit on entry. If the tenant has indeed caused damage, you can deduct the cost from the security deposit. If this is insufficient (and it will be if there is also unpaid rent), you can take your tenant to court.
  4. Unapproved alterations: The scope your tenant has for making alterations to the property will be dictated by the lease. However, any building alterations must be approved by you as the landlord. If the tenant has carried out work without your approval, you can sue the tenant for the cost of restoration.
  5. Tenant owes more than security deposit amount: If, for any of the reasons above, the security deposit has been exhausted and you are still owed money, you can take to litigation to recover the rest. 
  6. Recovery of lost rent if your tenant does a flit: If your tenant moves out before expiry of the lease, you are entitled to any rent they failed to pay as well as the remaining rent due on the lease. This is effectively lost income to you and they have a legal obligation to honour the lease if they did not terminate it through the proper channels.
  7. Cost of finding a new tenant: If your tenant moves out early without your agreement, you may need to find a new tenant urgently, if you rely on the income from the property. You may be able to claim compensation for the cost of advertising and credit checking new tenants.
  8. Expenses incurred in storing or disposing of abandoned property: As discussed in Abandoned Personal Property: What Should a Landlord Do?, you cannot dispose of a tenant’s property immediately. Therefore, if you incur storage costs and/or ultimately have to pay for disposal, you can sue the tenant for this cost.
  9. Tenant used the property for illegal activity: If you discover that your tenant used your property for an illegal activity, you can sue them to recover damages. However, unless the police have been involved, your suspicions may be difficult to prove.
  10. Keeping a pet against the terms of the lease: If your lease stipulates “no pets”, but the tenant has kept an animal on the property, you can sue for damages (this is a breach of the lease agreement) as well as for any damage actually caused by the pet (dirty walls, stained carpets, etc.). As above, the security deposit may cover the damage; then again it may not. But you will need proof, e.g. photographs of the pet. It may be difficult to claim that a dog caused a stain if you do not have evidence of a pet on the premises.
  11. Any other breaches of the lease: If the tenant has broken any other clause of the lease, resulting in financial loss or emotional or physical harm to you, you may need to claim compensation through the courts.

Possible benefits

Lawsuits are expensive, time-consuming, and stressful. If there is any other option for recovering money you are owed, a good eviction lawyer will usually advise you not to sue. However, there are potential positive outcomes from litigation that are worth bearing in mind.

  • Firstly, it is sometimes sufficient to threaten to sue. Often, on receipt of a court summons, the respondent will suddenly become very willing to negotiate and you will wind up settling out of court. They may know they will lose, or they may just want to keep their name off the court records. Their negotiation may seek a compromise and you may not succeed in recovering all your costs, but this may be a price worth paying to bring the matter to a close and avoid the hassle of a court case.
  • On the other hand, sometimes taking a tenant to court is the only way to recover your money, particularly where there is a dispute over damages. Without the force of the law, it may be difficult ever to see the money owed to you. In the case of damages, the entry and exit inspection reports, with photos, are essential to your case.
  • You may also wish to claim for additional damages. For example, in the case of #6 above, where a tenant vacates the property before the expiry of the lease, you can sue them for the rent remaining on the lease and possibly the cost of finding a new tenant.
  • If there is a risk that your tenant may malign your reputation as a landlord, even if you have acted entirely within the law, suing your tenant and winning is legal proof of your upstanding position.
  • Finally, your case against a trouble-making tenant will be on the record, should they ever try to sue you in future. A successful lawsuit is evidence that you have followed proper procedures and upheld all the laws regarding rental housing.

Risks

Of course, no action is without risk. We’ve outlined the benefits of litigation, but you should be aware of the risks as well.

  • Obviously, you might not win! Even if you feel you are in the right, there is no guarantee that you will win. Of course, a good eviction attorney will make sure you are fully prepared and have all your evidence in order, thus improving your odds. But it’s all down to the judge on the day.
  • Winning doesn’t automatically mean you will be paid. The tenant will have a court judgment against them, but collecting the money is another matter!
  • Litigation is costly, whether you win or lose. There is the court fee to pay, and the cost of an eviction attorney. You could represent yourself, but your chance of success is much greater with expert legal representation.
  • This is less likely, but you might provoke your tenant into a countersuit. If you lose, you might wind up having to pay out money to your tenant in court costs and legal fees. Again, if you engage the services of an experienced eviction lawyer, this is unlikely, but you should be aware of the risk.

Let Cape Town eviction lawyers help

If your tenants have left you high and dry and you need to recover money owed to you, either through the courts or out of court, contact Eviction Lawyer Cape Town, now also in Johannesburg and Durban. We are experts in eviction law and will ensure that you follow the proper procedures. We have an excellent track record in helping landlords and, with us on your side, the probability of getting your money back is excellent. Call Simon on 086 099 5146 or email sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za for a confidential discussion today.