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Eviction Archives | Eviction Lawyers South Africa

Khayelitsha land occupiers to square off with City in court

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

The group occupying land in Makhaza plan to oppose their eviction in court on 9 September

Photo of rebuilt shacks
Residents from Mpukwini informal settlement in Khayelitsha have begun rebuilding homes demolished by the anti-land invasion unit two weeks ago. The residents plan to oppose their eviction in court next month. Photo: Vincent Lali

Shack dwellers at Mpukwini informal settlement in Khayelitsha are preparing to square off with the municipality in court next month. They want the eviction order against them scrapped and the City of Cape Town to build them houses on the land.

About two weeks ago, the City’s anti-land invasion unit and law enforcement members demolished shacks belonging to residents who occupied the land in Makhaza. Residents at the time protested as their building materials were confiscated by officials.

Since then, many residents have rebuilt their homes on the land. The City has an urgent interim eviction order against anyone illegally occupying the land, but the occupiers are raising money for transport to collect some of their building materials from the City’s depot.

Mayco Member for Human Settlements Malusi Booi said that the City was “considering its options” on how to deal with the occupiers. Booi added that if the occupiers wanted to challenge their eviction, they needed to “show cause, if any” as to why the final order should not be granted on 9 September.

But community leader Bandile Kona said they were there to stay. “We don’t want to go anywhere else. We will stay here until the City of Cape Town builds RDP houses for us here.”

He said they were not concerned with the lack of basic services. “I had no other option but to rebuild because I had no place to stay and keep my belongings,” he said.

Samela Mene moved to Mpukwini from Island informal settlement, after her shack flooded during heavy rains. She said life was better at Mpukwini because it was closer to public transport and a crèche for her child.

Mene shares her small shack with her elderly mother and her children aged seven and three. “I’m waiting for the court to make a ruling on our occupation before I extend my shack so it can accommodate my whole family,” she said.

Another resident, Lelethu Mvumvu, whose shack was among those demolished, now squats in a shack with two relatives and their four children at Mpukwini. “I still struggle to raise the R500 that I must pay to law enforcement to get my building materials back,” she said.

On Saturday, an official who only identified himself as Gautanu from the Anti-Land Invasion Unit visited the settlement to warn resident against building more shacks.

“If you build more shacks, your belongings and building materials will be taken away to the scrap yard,” he told residents in the presence of GroundUp. “Whenever there is a new structure, we will take it away along with the furniture. The judge told you not to build more shacks,” he said.

Reprinted from GroundUp with thanks.

*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:

Police Accused of Doing Nothing

Unlawful Evictions

Durban Evictions

The Sheriff in Town

Shack Evictions

Tenants from hell

By | Evictions

Source: Eviction-specialists.co.za

How to avoid a nightmare tenancy

Whether you have managed rental properties for years or are a new landlord, sooner or later you are going to face the scenario every property owner dreads: the tenant from hell. Horror stories abound about dead animals, fixtures yanked from their fitments, and even (look away now) excreta smeared on walls – a last protest action before eviction. Fortunately these stories make the news due to their sensational nature but are not typical. Far more common is simple failure to pay rent or damage caused to property. The associated loss of income from this misconduct and an unlettable property while repairs are done can cause property owners to lose sleep.

If your dream tenant has turned into your worst nightmare, what actions are available to you and how do you ensure you remain compliant with rental housing legislation while protecting your asset and your interests?

Tactics of the nightmare tenant

While non-payment of rent is not the only behaviour that makes a tenant difficult or undesirable, it is usually the first indication that there is a problem, and often accompanies other unsavoury conduct. There are several tactics a tenant might use to avoid paying rent. It’s important not to fall for them.

  • Paying partial rent: A tenant may pay a portion of the rent owed. While they may promise to pay the balance the following month along with that month’s full rent, this is a warning sign and you are unwise to accept it. If you accept partial rent one month, you cannot begin the eviction procedure. The tenant has thus bought time, and in all likelihood will not pay in full the next month. You could reach the end of the lease with a large number of overdue rent payments, but you have forfeited your grounds for eviction. Don’t, whatever the sob story, accept partial payments.
  • Paying in cash: This is a tricky one because there is still a portion of South African society that is unbanked. The problem with cash is that it is untraceable and therefore if you take your tenant to court they may claim to have made rental payments they did not make, and you cannot prove otherwise. It is easy to produce a fake receipt. You need to be able to show a record of payments made and clear evidence of the months when rent was not paid. If the tenant does not have a bank account, there are electronic alternatives such as Paypal or other e-wallet services. If cash is the only option, give them a receipt that you both sign at the time and keep a copy for yourself.
  • The hardship story: Some tenants will ask for more time to pay rent, accompanied by a tale of woe designed to gain your sympathy. While their situation may be genuine, it is very hard to verify. However much compassion you have for their misfortune, you are not a bank or a charity. If they need a loan, they must approach family, friends, or financial institutions. If the tenant is a friend, this may feel like tough love, but it will make things easier for both of you in the long run.
  • The maintenance ruse: A tenant may claim that a property is uninhabitable or in need of maintenance, and withhold rent until the “fault” is addressed. Make sure your lease specifies how maintenance requests are to be made (in writing is best), and then acknowledge every maintenance request, track progress in a system, and provide the tenant with updates. If you respond in a timely manner to written requests for maintenance, the tenant has no grounds for withholding rent. 

Prevention is better than cure

Legislation provides landlords with the means to remove nightmare tenants. We cover that in a separate post. But it is better to avoid them in the first place. Tenant screening is a critical aspect of property management and taking shortcuts at this stage may cost you dearly later. Credit checks will tell you about past solvency but they don’t reveal anything about the character of the applicant. Reference checks can be faked, so it’s important to screen the tenant personally and carefully. 

Here are some tips to ensure your tenant verification is legitimate:

  • Always ask to see their original ID. Photocopies can be forged.
  • Verify their employment history. When contacting an employer, call the main office line listed on a website (not a cell phone). If this is not available – some tradespeople work from cell phone numbers as they are moving around all day but are still bona fide employers – ask them to send you an email from their company email as proof of legitimacy.
  • Call past landlords. Ask questions such as “can you confirm how much rent the tenant is paying?” This will help determine whether they are a genuine landlord or a friend. If possible, contact the landlord two or three tenancies past. The existing landlords may be keen to get rid of the tenant, and therefore give a good reference! Previous landlords may be more honest since they have no interest in the situation.
  • Reference check all adults who will be living in the property, not just the person signing the lease. At the risk of being politically incorrect, it does happen that a woman signs the lease because she is a low-risk tenant but her partner has a history of undesirable behaviour. Be sure to ask the main tenant how many people in total will occupy the property and what their names are. You don’t want your two-bedroom flat turned into a commune.
  • Keep a record of your property conditions and tenant interactions. Conduct regular inspections. We mentioned that non-payment of rent is not the only feature of nightmare tenants. Failure to maintain the property in a reasonable condition is also the source of much landlord misery. Frequent inspections will keep the tenants on their toes; it is much easier to keep a place in good order than to undertake a massive clean-up every three months. It will also allow you to spot potential breaches of the lease, e.g. evidence of animals when the lease explicitly forbids pets. If you fail to visit the property regularly you may actually encourage property damage because your tenants aren’t being held accountable.

You don’t have to go it alone

If you want to avoid renting to tenants from hell in future, we can help you screen prospective tenants and draw up a lease contract. Eviction lawyers are now in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban, as well as Cape Town. So wherever your property is located, we can help you find your dream tenant and avoid a nightmare.

Contact Eviction Lawyers South Africa on 086 099 5146 or email sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za.

Further reading:

‘Land occupation’ eviction processes to come under spotlight in Vrygrond case

By | Eviction news, Uncategorized

A court challenge in an ongoing demolish-and-rebuild stand-off between the City of Cape Town and residents in Vrygrond, near Muizenberg, may bring some clarity about eviction processes relating to the illegal occupation of land.

eviction procedures. eviction lawyers

The application, brought by some Vrygrond residents who previously protested over their plight, was supposed to heard in the Western Cape High Court on Friday, but was postponed for oral evidence.

“We don’t have the court date yet, but we expect it to be in this week still,” Mike Kumalo, chairperson of the Vrygrond Community Forum, said on Monday.

The applicants want clarity on whether the residents occupied the structures before June 18 when they were demolished; whether the City unlawfully evicted people when it demolished shacks on this date and whether it took away people’s belongings while doing so.

The applicants are the Vrygrond Community Forum, Nozingisa Mposi, Kunjulwa Menze, Ntombizanele Lindani, Mcebiseni Mpola, Siphamandla Blayi, Mncekeleli Qaweshe and Nothemba Mongo. The respondents are the City, the municipal manager and Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato. 

“Since some time last year, the City has been demolishing some homes [and] leaving some,” Kumalo told News24 on Friday. “We have been asking: ‘Why is the City inconsistent and what authority do they use to demolish people’s dwellings?'”

Shacks have been built on land between a landfill site and Vrygrond, named Xakabantu. 

Land earmarked for construction, then later nature reserve

Kumalo explained that this particular piece of land was originally earmarked for a housing development and residents were asked to leave to facilitate construction.

However, they had not seen any construction.

They moved back onto the land but then discovered it had been reclassified as part of a nature reserve, further complicating the issue.

Khumalo claimed there was no public participation that included the residents themselves. In addition, the issue of creating a buffer zone between Xakabantu and the landfill site and the nature reserve had also arisen.

In May 2018, the City obtained an interim interdict preventing the further building of houses and the demolition of any new houses.

Kumalo said it was nailed to a tree and that some people living there were later “given a number” by the City allowing them to stay, but not all were given a number.

This process in itself is causing friction between people who received a number and those who did not. There were also allegations of “number buying”.

Kumalo said the matter must be resolved once and for all because, as recently as June 18, more homes were demolished.

Electioneering

He added that residents felt that officials seemed to accept Xakabantu as a suburb when they went there for electioneering, but not at other times.

“During elections, law enforcement officials took pictures. People came to campaign. They said ‘Let people live there, let people stay;’ and then one day they decide: ‘Let’s go and break everything down.'” 

Residents want to know whether the City is following due process in the demolition of shacks.

On Friday, Judge Ashley Binns-Ward decided that the case should include oral evidence from witnesses. The case was postponed for an urgent date for the hearing from Judge President John Hlophe.

The Xakabantu issue comes weeks after the legality of a massive house-bulldozing operation in Johannesburg’s Alexandra was questioned. 

Source: News24

Get help from an eviction lawyer

For more information or help with an eviction matter, Contact Cape Town Eviction Attorney Simon on 086 099 5146 or email sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za.

Related reading:

The Sheriff in Town

Durban evictions

Red Ants on the rampage

Victory for the landless