Answer to a question from a reader

Our rent is ten days late and we are being evicted. What are our rights?

The short answer

The Constitution states that no one can be evicted without a court order.

The whole question

Could you kindly assist me with the eviction procedure. We have been renting a property for the last three years and we have always paid our rent. My husband and I are currently unemployed and unable to find employment. We are currently ten days in arrears with our rent and we have been informed that we need to vacate the premises.  Being unemployed and unable to find alternative accommodation for our family we will be forced to be homeless.  What are our rights as tenants considering that we are unemployed and I have young children?

The long answer

Thank you for your email about being told to vacate your home after being ten days behind with your rent.

The Constitution states that no one can be evicted without a court order. This is under the 1998 Prevention of Illegal Eviction Act known as PIE. The owners of your rented property must advise you that they will be seeking a court order to evict you and you must receive written notice of the date of the court hearing. At the hearing you will be given a chance to give your side of the story. The court must hear all the details of the case before granting an eviction order, and it must take into consideration the effect of the eviction on the people, including your young children.

The Constitution says that everyone has the right to adequate housing and that the government must try to achieve this goal as far as possible within its means, or in other words, as much as it can afford to. That is why the municipality in your area must also be informed of the court hearing and must attend, so that they can indicate whether they can assist with emergency housing if an eviction order is granted.

If the court grants an eviction order, you must be served personally with that order by a sheriff of the court. The order must contain the date of the eviction, and only the sheriff of the court can evict you, not the owners or anybody else.

Perhaps you could consult Legal Aid for assistance. Here are their contact details:

0800 110 110 (Monday to Friday 7AM - 7PM) 
079 835 7179 (Please Call Me) 
communications2@legal-aid.co.za

Answered on Aug. 12, 2019, 2:40 p.m.

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