Level 2: Landlords now need a court order to evict tenants during lockdown
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Johannesburg – Landlords will now require a court order to effect evictions for the remainder of the lockdown, regulations published in the government gazette show.
Municipalities who want to evict people from occupied land will also require a court order to demolish structures, the regulations show.
These regulations were signed by Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma on Sunday.
The amendment of regulations follows a number of municipalities including the City of Johannesburg and Cape Town, whose land invasion units had demolished shacks which were occupied during the lockdown.
The amended regulations on evictions follow complaints from distressed South Africans who have had their salaries cut by employers after trading conditions became difficult after March, when the country went into a hard lockdown which forced many industries and sectors to close.
“A person may not be evicted from his or her land or home or have his or her place of residence demolished for the duration of the national state of disaster unless a competent court has granted an order authorising the eviction or demolition,” said Dlamini Zuma in the regulations.
The regulations said a court may suspend an eviction or demolition order until after the termination of the national state of disaster, unless if the court was of the opinion that it is not just to suspend the order.
In terms of rental housing, the regulations said the Rental Housing Tribunals must determine fair procedures for the urgent hearing of disputes or it may grant an urgent ex-parte spoliation order including to restore occupation of a dwelling or access to services provided that an affected party may, on 24 hours' notice, require that a hearing be promptly convened.
Dlamini Zuma said Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu must consult with the Rental Housing Tribunals and issue directions on the manner in which the tribunal would conduct their proceedings during the national state of disaster.
The regulations said it was considered unfair practice to evict a tenant if the landlord had failed to “provide reasonable notice and an opportunity to make representations”.
This also extended to if the landlord has failed to make the arrangements to reach an agreement regarding alternative payment arrangements and had provided no provision for the ongoing provision of basic services during the national state of disaster.
The regulations also said imposing a penalty for late payment where the default had been caused by the lockdown or the state of disaster, was unfair.
“The failure of a landlord or tenant to engage reasonably and in good faith to make arrangements to cater for the exigencies of the disaster.
“Any other conduct prejudicing the ongoing occupancy of a place of residence, prejudicing the health of any person or prejudicing the ability of any person to comply with the applicable restrictions on movement that is unreasonable or oppressive having regard to the prevailing circumstances,” the regulations said.