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Serving an eviction notice

Serving an eviction notice

By | Eviction notice, Evictions, PIE

How to serve an eviction notice legally and properly

Are you a landlord? If so, we hope your tenancies are fruitful and trouble free. We hope you have amicable relationships with your tenants. Unfortunately, we know that isn’t always the case. Sometimes there is a breach of the lease agreement that, for whatever reason, is not remedied within the designated time frame and it is necessary to start eviction proceedings. When this happens, you need to understand and follow the legal requirements and procedures involved in serving eviction notices to tenants. If you take the right steps, your eviction notice will be legally valid. This is a guide to serving an eviction notice correctly.

Legal grounds for eviction

Before serving an eviction notice, you must have valid legal grounds for an eviction. The court will only grant an eviction order if:

  • You are the owner of the land/property
  • The person occupying your property is an unlawful occupier 
  • You have reasonable grounds to evict the occupier

Before resorting to eviction, you must have given your tenant notice of the breach of the lease agreement and sufficient time (as stipulated by law) to remedy the breach. This article is about the eviction order itself; for more information on the full process see Legal reasons for eviction and How to evict a tenant.

The court will take into account whether there is alternative accommodation available. The Prevention Of Illegal Eviction And Unlawful Occupation Of Land Act (PIE) defines an “illegal occupier” as a person who occupies land without the express or tacit consent of the owner or person in charge of the land, or without any right in law to occupy such land. 

PIE also recognises the concept of “unlawful occupiers”, which refers to occupants who occupy land or property with the consent of the owner or person in charge, but their occupation is in contravention of a law or agreement.

Eviction notice

An eviction notice is a formal written document you as the landlord provide to the tenant, informing them they must vacate the property. It is legal notice that you are starting eviction proceedings and should include, among others, the date when the notice is issued, the tenant’s name and contact details, the address of the property, and the grounds for the eviction, such as non-payment of rent, violation of lease terms, illegal activities, or expiration of lease. Avoid language that may be interpreted as threatening or discriminatory. Be concise and specific in your notice. A qualified eviction specialist can ensure your eviction notice is legally sound.

Serve the eviction notice personally

In South Africa, eviction notices must be served personally on the tenant or other adult residing on the property. When serving the notice: 

  • Choose an appropriate time to serve the notice (when the occupant is likely to be available)
  • Make sure the tenant acknowledges receipt of the notice (by signing and dating a copy, or having a witness present at the service)
  • Keep a copy of the notice and the proof of service for your records (it will be used for the eviction application)

Alternative methods of serving the notice

If you are unable to serve the eviction notice personally, you may use alternative methods, such as:

  • Registered mail
  • WhatsApp
  • Email 
  • Attaching the notice to the property’s main entrance

The lease agreement should indicate how legal notices need to be served. However, it is always advisable to have proof of receipt (signed acknowledgement, two ticks on WhatsApp, read receipt on email, etc.) to avoid any potential disputes. 

Allow adequate time for compliance

After serving the eviction notice, the tenant is entitled to a reasonable period to either remedy the situation or vacate the premises. The notice should specify the period allowed and will vary depending on the grounds for the eviction. It’s advisable to seek legal assistance or consult a qualified eviction specialist to determine the appropriate time frame.

Institute legal proceedings

If the tenant fails to comply with the eviction notice within the specified time, you may institute legal proceedings, i.e., apply for an eviction order. Consult with an attorney or eviction specialist to initiate the eviction process correctly. They will guide you through the necessary steps, including filing an eviction application in court, and will represent you during the legal proceedings.

You must serve the eviction notice correctly for the eviction order to be granted by the court. By following the steps outlined above, you can ensure your eviction notice is legally valid, giving you a solid foundation for instituting legal proceedings if necessary. 

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 but, when it is necessary, we can assist with eviction, ensuring it is effected legally and ethically. Contact one of our eviction attorneys on 086 099 5146 or simon@sdlaw.co.za if you need help with an eviction or a breach of a lease agreement. 

Further reading:

How to evict a tenant off a property if the landlord dies 

By | Evictions, Lease Agreement

What is the eviction process if the landlord dies?

If your landlord dies, you may wonder if you still have a home or if you will suddenly be evicted. And, as a landlord, what happens if your tenant dies? Is the estate liable for the rent or are you going to be left high and dry?

You're a tenant and your landlord has passed away. What happens now? Eviction lawyers

What is the eviction process if the landlord or tenant dies? The short answer is…the lease remains valid. The landlord’s or the tenant’s estate is bound by the lease and must honour the terms and conditions of the agreement. (Download a lease agreement template here.)

Can you be evicted immediately if the landlord dies?

As stressed in previous articles, having a written lease agreement is crucial as it protects the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords alike and makes dealing with the above scenario a whole lot simpler. Additionally, once the Rental Housing Amendment Act 35 of 2014 comes into effect, landlords will be compelled to draw up a written lease agreement

Lease agreements are not simply rendered invalid if the landlord dies. The tenant cannot be summarily evicted from a property. However, the terms of the lease agreement will determine the conditions under which the lease may be terminated. 

For example, a lease agreement may specify that the contract will automatically be cancelled when the landlord passes away. Should the executor of the landlord’s estate decide to sell the property, the executor is entitled to cancel the lease. Regardless of the reason for the cancellation of a lease, the landlord must generally give the tenant at least 20 working days’ to a full calendar month’s notice to vacate the premises in accordance with the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) and the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act No 19 of 1998 (PIE).

If the tenant does not adhere to the time frame, the executor may then approach the court to apply for an eviction order.

When the tenant dies the estate is liable 

If the tenant dies, the estate becomes liable for the rent and must give the landlord 20 business days’ notice of cancellation of the lease. The landlord cannot remove the tenant’s belongings during that time. It may be wise for both tenants and landlords to establish the cancellation clauses in lease agreements to avoid uncertainty or any nasty surprises down the line. 

Seek expert guidance

Simon Dippenaar and Associates are expert eviction lawyers. We can help you navigate the complex world of lease agreements. Call Simon on 086 099 5146 or email sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za.

Further reading:

Foreign nationals allegedly torch building after eviction

By | Eviction news, Eviction notice, Eviction videos, Evictions

A house in Pretoria West was allegedly set alight by foreign nationals illegally occupying it – this after they were evicted on Monday, as this video from Twitter user Yusuf Abramjee shows.

Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) spokesperson Superintendent Isaac Mahamba told News24 they were assisting the owners of the building with an eviction order in Luttig Street when the fire was started.

“We accompanied the service provider for possible evictions of people who occupied the house. Somehow they started a fire with the intention of burning the house down.”

Mahamba said they called the fire department to extinguish the fire to keep it from spreading to other buildings in the area.

“[The fire was extinguished] successfully and without any injuries being reported,” he added. The TMPD said no arrests have been made.

Tshwane Fire Department spokesperson Deputy Chief Charles Mabaso told News24 the cause of the fire had not yet been established.

“Upon arrival, a house with about seven to eight rooms was burning,” he said. “We managed to extinguish the fire, but it was almost completely destroyed. The cause is not clear, but an investigation has been launched,” Mabaso added.

Reprinted from News24 – 2020-02-18. Emphasis/links by SD Law.

If you need help with the eviction process

However difficult your situation, setting fire to a property won’t solve anything and will just create further problems. 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 need help with an eviction matter.

Further reading: