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Illegal eviction Archives | Eviction Lawyers South Africa

Tenants out in the cold after landlord evicts them for unpaid rent

By | Eviction news, Evictions, Rental Housing Tribunal

Tenants evicted for unpaid rent. In our blog we have covered the lockdown rules at some length, particularly as they pertain to evictions. Although an eviction case can be commenced under level 3 regulations, no eviction orders may be executed. Yet some landlords are not behaving within the law. Given the very cold conditions experienced in Gauteng at present, and the rapid increase in COVID-19 infections, this is particularly irresponsible and uncaring social conduct. 

Reprinted from the SowetanLive, by Noxolo Majavu 2020-07-14

Tenants evicted for unpaid rent
Residents say they are being intimidated by their landlord. Image: 123RF/ANDRIY POPOV

Residents of Bramley in Johannesburg are scouting for homes after their landlord evicted them because of unpaid rent. The tenants are mostly foreign nationals and restaurant workers and bartenders that do not receive much of an income during lockdown.

The tenants alleged that they were victimised by the property owner weeks before the eviction because of not being able to afford rent.

“My wife was forced to write a letter saying that she is moving out voluntarily out of the premises, and was threatened to sleep in the room with two men,” said Caswell Chauke.

Chauke said he went to a funeral and when he came back, he could not get into his room because it was locked. “The property owner told me that I will not get my belongings and furniture until I pay,” said Chauke.

“They locked us in the yard like prisoners, we tried to negotiate with the landlord but she would not listen,” said another tenant, Reginald Malatsi.

The tenants opened a case of intimidation at the Bramley police station after they were threatened by bouncers sent by the landlord to demand money. Two of the bouncers got arrested but were released the next morning. “When we went to inquire about the case we were told that there was not enough evidence and so the case was closed,” said Chauke .

Sowetan tried to contact the property owner, Ester Bughai, but she said that she did not have time to comment. National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindile Mjonodwane showed Sowetan the case docket in question.

Tahir Seema, a representative from the Gauteng Rental Tribunal, said: No evictions can take place with or without a court order during the lockdown period. This is in terms of lockdown regulations.”

Seema added that evictions done without a court order are illegal and the tenants are welcomed to lodge a complaint with the Gauteng Rental Housing Tribunal (RHT) for urgent relief.

“Complaints in this regard can be lodged via the RHT central email address – rentaltribunal@gauteng.gov.za. Once the matter is heard a ruling will be issued by the RHT that is equal to that of a magistrate’s court,” Seema added.

Are you facing unlawful eviction?

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 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:

Housing crisis more complex than it seems

By | Eviction news, Evictions, Homeless

Recent evictions are indicative of the bigger social problem of our housing crisis, as this article in Ground-up explains.

Reprinted from Ground-up, by Jens Horber – 2020-07-06

What the eviction of a naked man tells us about our collective response to the housing shortage

Housing crisis out of control

Vulnerable people with little to no access to adequate shelter, let alone decent housing, are occupying land because of the unacceptable conditions they have endured for years in crowded and unsanitary informal settlements or backyard dwellings. Archive photo: Vincent Lali

The outrage over the recent violent eviction of a naked Bulelani Qholani from his shack in eThembeni near Empolweni, Khayelitsha, on 1 July by the City of Cape Town’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit (ALIU), will fade in time. Many more evictions will happen, and the dignity and rights of many more people will be violated if we do not look at the broader picture, and address the root causes of these human rights violations.

City of Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato in a statement on 2 July, reacting to the video of the eviction, said the City did not tolerate the conduct demonstrated by the officers during the eviction, and that they had been suspended pending an investigation.

But the City routinely places ALIU officers in ethically and psychologically difficult situations. They are tasked with following orders that enforce property rights at the expense of constitutional rights to shelter and dignity. The destruction of people’s homes, whether temporary and located on land owned by others, is inherently a violent act. Such a situation brings out the worst in human nature and some officers use unacceptable levels of force. That some of these officers may empathise with the evictees, but are tasked with perpetrating violence on them, appears not to be considered in the Mayor’s or the broader public’s condemnation of the officers.

Vulnerable people with little to no access to adequate shelter, let alone decent housing, are occupying land because of the unacceptable conditions they have endured for years in crowded and unsanitary informal settlements or backyard dwellings.

The State argues that “land invaders” (a pejorative term) must be quickly removed in order to enforce private and state property rights, upholding the “rule of law” and setting a precedent. But what land occupations and the ever growing existing informal settlements represent is a failure by the whole of our society – the state, the private sector, and residents – to address a lack of housing.

Put simply, increased urbanisation is fuelling the growth of informal settlements and land occupations due to the failure of the housing supply to meet the demand, particularly in areas well-located in terms of job opportunities and public facilities.

While urbanisation is caused by a number of factors, a key driver is the lack of economic opportunities in rural municipalities due to a combination of past land dispossession, homeland policies, lack of investment in infrastructure and sustainable development, dysfunctional and corrupt municipal administrations, and the lack of a coordinated and effective national spatial planning response to address this in a holistic way.

Apartheid policies resulted in deliberate underinvestment in urban housing supply. The housing that was built was not of a decent standard in terms of sustainable settlement, social or economic development, and often located on the edge of cities and towns.

Since 1994, the State housing response has mostly reinforced these spatial patterns and dysfunctions, as state-subsidised housing has often been built on the edge of cities and towns where land is cheaper, and the need to build at large scale has resulted in sprawling featureless settlements of identical houses.

In addition, this mode of housing development has failed to account for the fact that many lower income people do not have regular or stable employment which allows them to pay regular rates and utility bills, nor the need for flexibility to move to where economic opportunity arises, or leave cities and towns for the safety of rural social and family networks in times of economic or personal distress. As a result, many housing beneficiaries move back into informal settlements or backyard shacks, in order to live off the rental income from their house. This is also one of the reasons why the impressive scale of state-led housing delivery since 1994 has hardly dented the growth of informal settlements.

Consequently, a large demand exists for affordable transitional forms of housing (such as short-term rental units), a limited number pioneered by social housing associations in Johannesburg and more recently in Cape Town. This type of housing can also cater to those who have been evicted from their current homes (formal or informal) due to gentrification, economic circumstances or, as in the current case, occupying state or private land.

While large scale state-led housing delivery was based on an urgent need to provide adequate housing post-94 (and also an unrealistic but understandable promise made by government to deliver a house to all those without in a relatively short time frame), it has created a culture of dependency. It does not empower people through a degree of involvement and skills transfer in the construction of their own home, which the neglected People’s Housing Process (PHP) policy fosters.

The current approach centres the state in housing delivery, rather than the private sector which generally has and does supply the majority of housing demand in most countries. The state is in the business of governing and is generally not in the business of building housing unless the private sector, through the market, does not meet the demand with sufficient supply. State intervention is then usually in the form of social or sub-economic housing, where economics do not give the private sector their required rate of return.

Why is the private sector not more involved in the supply of lower income housing, when the demand is so high, and growing? This is partly due to the large role that the state has made for itself in the delivery of housing, understandable given the great demand for housing post-94, but also to the weak appetite (and lack of shared vision) of the private sector in getting involved in order to the meet this demand.

The complexities of assembling housing subsidies for multiple beneficiaries in a single housing development, and the economics of cross-subsidising social housing with market-rate housing in integrated developments are just two of the obstacles to be overcome.

However, the government can make efforts to reduce the obstacles (“reducing the business risk”) and speed up land release and development processes. Meanwhile the private sector (including the finance sector on which housing development relies) needs to buy into a shared vision by realising that inclusive economic growth, which is underpinned by development that reduces inequality, is the only sustainable way to grow the economy, address our myriad social issues, and foster integration.

We cannot wait a moment longer; the human rights and dignity of millions of our fellow South Africans and the future of our country are at stake.

Jens Horber works as an urban planner, and has a background in the design and NGO sectors, where he has worked in informal settlement research.

Views expressed are not necessarily those of GroundUp or SD Law. Links added 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 attorneys on 086 099 5146 or sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za if you need advice on the eviction process or want to know the cost of eviction.

Further reading:

Emalahleni Local Municipality receives two days to reply to SAHRC

By | Eviction news, Evictions

Over 100 houses were demolished, with about 96 residents who currently live in an open area, declared homeless after the eviction operations.

Emalahleni Municipality involved in illegal evictions

The provincial office of the Human Rights Commission, in Mpumalanga, gave Emalahleni Local Municipality two days to respond to an urgent email regarding the “complaints relating to eviction operations without a court order.”

In a letter seen by the WITBANK NEWS, the commission indicated that the assessed complaint, the affected resident’s right to have access to housing, particularly their right not be evicted without a court order enshrined in section 26(3) of the constitution were “prima facie violation.”

“Given the urgency of the matter and the level 3 lockdown COVID-19 regulations on evictions, please let us have your response to the above allegations at your nearest convenience and in any event by no later than 24 June 2020,” the letter reads.

Over 100 houses were demolished, with about 96 residents who currently live in an open area declared homeless after the eviction operations.

Branch leader of the settlement from the South African National Civic Organization (SANCO), Mr Sbusiso Ndlovu said he was pleased by the response of the commission.

“As SANCO leadership from Ward 23, we are pleased by the information from the SARHC to investigate the matter in Empumelelweni. It is high time that people take accountability for their actions, human dignity as enshrined in the constitution has been compromised, people have been greatly exposed to COVID-19 by this whole situation and lastly, we will be happy if the municipality can engage SANCO about the land to be allocated and other matters alike to avoid similar occurrences,” said Ndlovu.

Reprinted from Witbank News – 2020-06-30

Links added 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 attorneys on 086 099 5146 or sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za if you need advice on the eviction process or want to know the cost of eviction.

Further reading: