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Durban - A ZINKWAZI Beach property owner has coughed up more than R300000 in legal fees over the past three years in a bid to evict a couple “squatting” on his North Coast property.

This week, Theo Chaplin took to Facebook to warn homeowners in Ballito, Salt Rock, Zinkwazi Beach and surrounding areas, to be on the lookout for the woman and her accomplice.

He said the woman had rented his property in Panorama Drive but defaulted on payment after two years.

“She paid no rent for the third year then squatted from December 2017 to June 2019,” he said.

The woman was finally evicted by the sheriff on June 11 this year.

This, after Durban High Court Judge Graham Lopes, granted an eviction order on May 31. He ordered the woman and all other occupants to vacate the property by June 10.

In his post, Chaplin wrote: “Big warning. If she gets into your property, by whatever means and declares herself “homeless”, and a squatter, then she is indeed protected by SA Law.

“The only way to evict her is through the High Court, which could take 2-3 years or more and about R300k for starters in legal fees,” he said.

He described the woman as a “stocky built white woman who changes her hair colour constantly, and has a baby”.

Her accomplice is described as a thin, black male.

“A few days after being evicted the gang came back and tried to re-enter the property. But they were chased away by the contractors I had hired to renovate the property,” he said.

The Prevention of Illegal Eviction Act states that no one can be evicted from the premises in which they are living without a court order.

Chantelle Gladwin-Wood, an attorney who practises property law at Schindlers Attorneys, said the rights of a person or entity to remain in occupation of a property varied according to several factors.

Gladwin-Wood said a landlord had the right to “retake possession” of the property if the tenant’s lease was cancelled, had lapsed or if there was another type of occupational right flowing from, for example, a servitude (which is a registered right that a person has over the immovable property of another) that has been cancelled or has lapsed.

With regard to the tenants’ rights, Gladwin-Wood said a “squatter” may refer to a person who is occupying a property in terms of a lease or other right of occupation that has now expired or been cancelled.

She said a “squatter” can also refer to a person who never had any right of occupation whatsoever.

Gladwin-Wood noted that the more appropriate term is “unlawful occupation” rather than a squatter.

She said unlawful occupiers have the right not to be evicted from their home without a court order.

“This does not give them a right to remain in occupation of the landlord’s property,” she said.

The Mercury