- During the early, strict stages of the Covid-19, tenants were not allowed to be evicted.
- Now, during lockdown level 1, courts have started to grant evictions orders again, says attorney Simon Dippenaar.
- A recent case made it clear that owners also have the right to the use and enjoyment of their property.
A recent court case shows fair consideration for all parties in an eviction, says attorney Simon Dippenaar.
He explains that in the early stages of the Covid-19, evictions were not allowed.
"As hard lockdown gave way to gradually lessening restrictions, the status of eviction orders also changed. For a while eviction orders could be granted but not executed, unless a tenant posed a danger to the landlord or the property," says Dippenaar.
Now, during lockdown alert Level 1, however, evictions are being granted. A recent case made it clear that, while rental housing legislation protects tenants against unfair treatment by landlords, owners also have the right to the use and enjoyment of their property. As such, they must be allowed to evict a tenant who is illegally occupying premises.
"In an effort to ensure both parties' rights are respected, confusion has arisen as to what the courts will allow. Several cases have been heard that have helped the courts to define just and equitable eviction proceedings during this unprecedented time," says Dippenaar. A recent case in the Western Cape High Court found that, in determining justness and equality, all relevant circumstances should be considered. Among those circumstances the availability of alternative accommodation and the rights and needs of people falling into specific vulnerable groups are singled out for consideration.
The time frame given for the tenant to vacate the premises is also important. It must be reasonable not only for the tenant but also for the property owner.
"This case demonstrates that the courts will grant an eviction order under Alert Level 1, allowing tenants a reasonable time frame to find alternative accommodation and vacate the property. If you are a landlord seeking eviction, you must make sure you can prove that your eviction is just and equitable," says Dippenaar.
"The illegal occupancy of the premises is not the only factor the court will look at. A judge will want to be satisfied that the tenant has access to alternative accommodation. Courts need to know that tenants will not be left destitute and without shelter." Dippenaar suggests that a landlord could facilitate this process by requiring a tenant to provide an address for potential alternative accommodation in the lease agreement. This will ensure they have a viable option, should their lease needed to be terminated.