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Eviction Archives | Eviction Lawyers South Africa

Evictions ruling a tinderbox for Cape Town

By | Eviction news, Eviction notice, Eviction orders, Evictions
Bulelani Qholani opened a case against the City of Cape Town after a video of him being dragged naked out of his shack went viral. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

Bulelani Qholani opened a case against the City of Cape Town after a video of him being dragged naked out of his shack went viral. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

The recent Cape Town high court judgment barring the City of Cape Town from evicting illegal land occupiers from their shacks — occupied or not — without first obtaining a court order risks encouraging land invasions and deepening instability. This is entirely at odds with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s repeated assurances that “land grabs” will not be tolerated.

The court argued that the city would not be prejudiced because it could always apply for eviction orders on an urgent basis. However, this remedy is meaningless given the time needed to obtain such court orders. By then, unlawful occupiers will have become entrenched.

Moreover, those without the means to go to court will have no remedy at all. This will affect not only the 9.8-million people (almost all black) who own formal houses, but also the millions more with informal title to customary plots.

In October, the court’s interim interdict could be overtaken by a permanent ban on the common-law remedy of “counter-spoliation”. This allows a person to take back their property while the process of dispossession is still under way. In practice, says the city, this means evictions must take place within 48 hours and before new shacks are occupied.

Like the interim interdict already granted, the permanent ban is being sought by the SA Human Rights Commission, acting with civil society organisation The Housing Assembly and unlawful occupier Bulelani Qolani. The EFF is supporting them as amicus curiae.

Qolani, evicted from the Ethembeni informal settlement in Khayelitsha by the city’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit (ALIU) in July, told the court that when he saw officials approaching, he went into his dwelling, undressed for a bath and stood naked outside his shack, asking to be allowed to finish his bath. When he went inside again, the ALIU dragged him naked from his home, pepper-sprayed him and pinned him down before demolishing his shack.

The city, which has instituted disciplinary proceedings against the ALIU members involved, told the court Qolani’s dwelling, erected only the day before, was still unoccupied at the time. In addition, Qolani had chosen to stand naked in front of his shack. This was in keeping with “the latest trend, whereby people undressed themselves” as a strategy to avoid eviction.

The city argued that prior court orders were required only for evictions from shacks already occupied. It was only when shacks had already been turned into homes that unlawful occupiers fell within the ambit of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction From And Unlawful Occupation of Land Act. Only then were they protected by the constitution’s bar on evictions without court orders.

It said the lockdown ban on evictions did not relieve it of its duty to prevent illegal land invasions via swift counter-spoliations. It noted a recent and orchestrated upsurge in land invasions in the city, with more than 100 recorded since the start of July. These were often large (involving hundreds of people), well organised and accompanied by increasing violence.

While sympathising with the homeless, the city said land invasions threatened vital housing and infrastructure projects, allowed unlawful occupants to elbow aside law-abiding citizens waiting patiently on housing lists, and generated crowded shack settlements that were difficult to service. Invasions also eroded land values and deterred investments vital to growth and jobs.

Cape Town mayor Dan Plato pointed out that the city has already lost about 360ha (200 football fields) to land invasions over the last two years. “We could lose every open patch of land, (including) privately owned and state-owned land, along with public parks and sidewalks across the city,” he warned.

But judges Yasmin Meer and Rosheni Allie in effect reduced these issues to the “budgetary and many housing challenges the city faces”, saying such considerations could not outweigh the rights to shelter of “the poor, the homeless, the downtrodden, and the unemployed”.

However, on the court’s approach, land and housing could increasingly pass to those most willing to use force against existing occupiers — while the poor would be least able to resist this assault on the rule of law.

Reprinted from Business Day (emphasis by SD Law*)

Simon Dippenaar & Associates, Inc. is a firm of specialist eviction lawyers, based in Cape Town and now operating in Johannesburg and Durban, helping both landlords and tenants with the eviction process. Contact one of our eviction attorneys on 086 099 5146 or sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za if you need advice on the eviction process or if you are facing unlawful eviction.

Further Reading:

SAHRC: We’re against land invasions, but City of Cape Town must abide by the law

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

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) took the City of Cape Town to court last week following a series of contentious demolitions and evictions during the lockdown.

The EFF joined the SAHRC’s court application to interdict the City from carrying out evictions and demolitions of structures during the National State of Disaster.

The Western Cape High Court is expected to deliver a ruling soon.

The court application comes after the forced removal of a Khayelitsha man while naked last month.

Western Cape SAHRC commissioner Chris Nissen says the commission does not condone land invasions, however, that the City must follow the law when dealing with illegal occupations.

Nissen says the EFF’s involvement in the court application is in the broader interest of public good.

He adds that the SAHRC does not side with any political party, despite what the City may suggest.

Reprinted from CapeTalk (emphasis by SD Law*)

Simon Dippenaar & Associates, Inc. is a firm of specialist eviction lawyers, based in Cape Town and now operating in Johannesburg and Durban, helping both landlords and tenants with the eviction process. Contact one of our eviction attorneys on 086 099 5146 or sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za if you need advice on the eviction process or if you are facing unlawful eviction.

Further Reading:

Rental tenants believe they can only pay rent after a 10% reduction

By | Eviction news, Eviction notice, Eviction orders, Evictions, Rent
About 88 percent of rental tenants believe they will only be able to afford monthly rentals that’s reduced by 10 percent for the next 12 months, while more than a third say they intend to move for a better deal, due to the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown. Picture Pixabay
About 88 percent of rental tenants believe they will only be able to afford monthly rentals that’s reduced by 10 percent for the next 12 months, while more than a third say they intend to move for a better deal, due to the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown. Picture Pixabay

CAPE TOWN – About 88 percent of rental tenants believe they will only be able to afford monthly rentals that’s reduced by 10 percent for the next 12 months, while more than a third say they intend to move for a better deal, due to the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown.

These were according to findings of a survey by digital rental platform, HouseME, among more than 1000 of its tenants and landlords in June and July.

The findings reveal the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown and economic slowdown on the residential property market, in stark black and white, and a major concern is when the payment holidays end.

Property entrepreneur and Only Realty managing director Grant Smee said: “We’ are seeing an excess amount of vacant properties. Tenants have either: been evicted; had to move out due to affordability; or, in the case of Airbnb’s, are vacant due to a lack of tourism. This is particularly evident in Cape Town, our major tourism hub”.

Smee said while evictions had been an ethical “grey area” during lockdown, eviction lawyers were preparing for an influx of cases. He said the topic of eviction, however, remained contentious, and was placing big pressure on both landlords and tenants.

In the HouseME survey, the majority of landlords (85 percent) in the HouseME survey own bonded properties, so it was unsurprising that 37 percent said they could not afford to self-fund more than one month of vacancy, with half of those landlords indicating they could not fund even a single month of vacancy.

However, 41 percent of landlords were expecting rentals to remain unchanged for the next 12 months, and 24 percent expected rentals to increase.

With 28 percent of tenants already having had their income negatively affected, either through job loss or salary reduction, and 21 percent concerned about income security in the next six months, the mismatch of expectations between landlords and tenants was likely to cause tension when it comes to property pricing and negotiation, said HouseME chief executive Ben Shaw.

“A major concern for landlords, banks and property managers is what will happen when the payment holidays end. Landlords who have had the benefit of delaying home loan repayments may now be forced to ruthlessly pursue rental to cover their payments,” he said.

Tenants who had rental payment holidays could now also be within days of default.

“We expect the national default rate to spike in August and September and this will have a knock-on effect on property value, credit records and general affordability by the consumer,” said Shaw.

A quarter of all landlords surveyed listed non-payment of rental as their biggest worry going forward, followed by vacancies (19 percent) and late payments (16 percent).

“The economic recession is already biting hard among tenants, with some respondents saying that moving costs are prohibitive given their current liquidity position, and some even citing petrol and travel costs for viewings as a barrier,” said Shaw.

Shaw said the pandemic had fast-tracked the move to digital, which was reflected in accelerated adoption of the HouseME platform.

“We have seen an 80 percent jump in units advertised since the first quarter of the year; driven by larger property portfolios – all of whom are now moving digital, seeking the cost efficiencies of a long-term letting platform.

“Our listings climbed from an average of 400 pre-lockdown to more than 750 in July. This was partly due to the influx of fully-furnished holiday-let units now seeking long-term tenants, because they could no longer rely on the short-term market for income.

“This increased supply is likely to further push down rental prices, particularly in major cities – both tourist and business centres – until tourism picks up again,” said Shaw.

Smee said a prolonged buyers’ market had seen a spike in residential property sales since June. “It is important to take a conservative, calculated and logical approach when purchasing or selling a property,” he said.

Reprinted from Iol by Edward West (emphasis by SD Law*)

Simon Dippenaar & Associates, Inc. is a firm of specialist eviction lawyers, based in Cape Town and now operating in Johannesburg and Durban, helping both landlords and tenants with the eviction process. Contact one of our eviction attorneys on 086 099 5146 or sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za if you need advice on the eviction process or if you are facing unlawful eviction.

Further Reading: