A full bench of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) dismissed an appeal by a Bloemfontein property owner who tried to remove occupants by cancelling the lease agreement and changing locks.
ZBP leased the premises from Graceful Blessing in terms of a written lease agreement.
On November 4, 2022, Graceful Blessings cancelled the lease agreement, which ZBP maintained that it was not properly done.
On May 6, 2022, locks of the premises were changed.
ZBP approached the Bloemfontein High Court and challenged Graceful Blessings.
The matter was heard by Judge Nokuthula Daniso.
Judge Daniso found that clause 18 of the written lease agreement does not entitle Graceful Blessings to change the locks without recourse to law and made a ruling in favour of ZBP.
Dissatisfied with the judgment, Graceful Blessings brought an application for leave to appeal against the decision. Judge Daniso dismissed the application with costs.
Disenchanted with the dismissal, Graceful Blessings obtained leave to appeal from the SCA.
During the appeal, the property owner argued that clause 17 of the lease agreement did not afford ZBP any right to remain as an occupant.
It was further argued that ZBP failed to discharge the onus of proving a valid substantive right to remain in occupation of the leased premises.
After reviewing the evidence, the SCA said it can be accepted that the purpose of clause 18 was to terminate occupation by taking repossession.
However, it was argued that requirements in contract wording must be clear.
The SCA held that if clause 18 was formulated differently, there may have been a basis to rule against the initial decision made by Judge Daniso.
“Judging from the facts deposed to in the evidence, that there can be any doubt that there have been breaches of the conditions of the lease,’’ said judges at the SCA.