Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act
The Prevention of illegal eviction from and unlawful occupation of land act (or PIE for short) was originally established with the aim of protecting owners and occupiers of property. This protection stems from a variety of ways in which some took advantage of the system in the past.
We thought that it could be helpful to readers if we took some commentary from Rentals expert, Greg Harris, about some of the noteworthy changes to this Act.
Greg Harris is a leader in the property rentals market, having over fifteen years of relevant experience heading up Lighthouse Property Group, which is now part of Chas Everitt Property Rentals – a company which Greg has been appointed CEO of.
Who does this Act (PIE) protect?
Greg starts by explaining: “The Act protects those wanting to lease out a property, those looking to rent a property as well as occupants who are staying on a premises illegally, although without other alternatives.
It achieves this by outlining rules and regulations pertaining to ‘basic human rights to live’, in consideration of- the needs and ‘rights of property owners’.
Therefore, PIE seeks to provide a statutory platform that is fair to all parties, as contrasted with the old system of simply rewarding one party while penalising the other.
This also falls in tandem with the South African constitution and Bill of Rights which underpins all laws.”
When is eviction lawful?
When attempting an eviction, it is critical to ensure that you fully adhere to all necessary steps and procedures. If even one of the requirements is compromised in any way, then the eviction is regarded as unlawful and will not stand in a court of law.
Greg continues to explain the process necessary to perform a lawful eviction, in a nutshell:
1. Notice to the occupier, either from the property owner or from the owner’s attorney, informing the dweller of their illegal occupancy and of the intention to apply for an eviction order from a court of law – if the matter cannot be resolved amicably.
2. Application to the respective court will follow requesting an official and sanctioned eviction order.
3. Notice of this should be served on the dwelling party and in terms of the notice itself.
4. The following must also be factored in:
- Clear notice that the proceedings will be held in a court of law, in accordance with PIE.
- The time and date of the proceedings.
- The basis of the eviction and what is being proposed.
- That the resident or occupant must appear in person before the court.
- That legal aid is allowed for the occupant if he/she chooses to utilise it.
5. Two weeks’ notice is afforded to the occupier before the event of the court hearing. This must also be provided to the municipality that holds jurisdiction in the area.
Prerequisites for an eviction
How this act protects occupiers of a property is by ensuring that the land and, or building must in fact be needed for a greater or equally important cause, and, that the occupier must not be left without anywhere to live.
These are the prerequisites to be met before an eviction order can be granted:
- The person applying for an eviction order is in fact the owner of the property, building or land.
- The occupant is living there without given or tacit permission.
- The owner has fair justification for requesting an eviction.
- Another residence can be made available by the owner, local authority or other party.
The exception of urgent evictions
In the event that the owner of the land urgently needs to evict the occupant there are a few instances in which the previous rules can be disregarded.
These, however, are for situations that require urgent attention – such as time-sensitive or dangerous scenarios.
Here are the exceptions allowed:
- A real danger of injury or damage to any person, building or land involved.
- If there is absolutely no other practical alternative.
- If owner can expect to suffer more from illegal tenant than the tenant will if they are removed.
In such situations, the owner of the land can request a final notice of eviction from a court of law and, with substantial justification, serve it upon the occupant.
When an eviction is granted:
The order will clearly state by precisely what date the occupier needs to leave the land or premises. It will also state when a lawful and forceful eviction will take place if the occupier doesn’t comply.
This can include simple removal from the premises, but can also be an order for the property to be demolished.
Author: Greg Harris