Tenants are protected by the Prevention of Illegal Eviction Act to avoid mistreatment. What this means for the landlord is that, should there be reasons as to why the tenant must vacate the property, the correct legal processes must be followed.
The eviction procedure typically follows these steps:
Breach of contract: A valid reason for evicting a tenant is when they are in breach of their contract, i.e. they have not fulfilled their part of the lease agreement. Most commonly, this takes the form of non-payment of rental, although it may include misuse of the property or contravening any clauses contained within the lease agreement. Bearing in mind, only clauses that are in line with relevant legislation are enforceable.
Notice to the tenant: The landlord must give written notice to the tenant detailing the non-compliance and requesting obligations to be fulfilled. If reparations are made, the eviction process will not proceed. However, if despite this notice, the tenant’s behaviour does not change within the stipulated time period (typically 20 days in accordance with the Consumer Protection Act), the process will continue.
Cancelling the agreement: If no correction is made, the landlord may cancel the lease agreement and give notice of the intention of eviction through legal channels.
Eviction application: The landlord may then apply to the courts for an eviction order which is delivered to the tenant 2 weeks before the hearing date.
Court hearing and summons: The court hearing is an opportunity for both sides of the dispute to be heard. If the tenant has a valid defense, the matter will go to trial on a specified date. However, if no valid defense is heard, the courts will order the removal of the tenant from the relevant property. This will be managed by the sheriff who will be authorised by the courts to remove the tenant and all his belonging from the property on the given date.
The important thing to remember is to ensure everything is done in line with the correct legal proceedings and as such, you should always work in conjunction with an attorney who can assist.
Written by Wessel de Kock