Welcome to Scorpion’s Legal Tips! Every week we’ll share stories of injustice
and show you how you can strike back legally.
Phil and Eunice had been renting a small flat for a couple of years. Usually they had no problems paying the rent, and made sure things were always handled on time. But last month, Phil was retrenched unexpectedly, and the couple had financial problems – without Phil’s salary they could barely afford food for the month, they knew they couldn’t afford to pay the rent.
They went to speak to their landlord about their situation, and promised that they would pay double their rent the next month to make up for it. But their landlord got angry and locked them out – even though he had no court order. When they got home from work one night, all their stuff was lying outside the flat and the locks had been changed so they couldn’t get in. AZIKHIPHI! That’s not on! It is illegal to just kick someone out of their house, even if they haven’t paid their rent. But their landlord did it anyway, and now they’re stuck. What can they do?
Scorpion Legal Protection’s advice
The Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (the PIE Act) says no one can evict you from your home without a court order considering all the circumstances. Even if you haven’t paid your rent, you still have rights. Phil and Eunice’s landlord was wrong to kick them out like that – there is a very specific legal process that any landlord has to follow in order to evict tenants.
The PIE Act states that a landlord must:
There’s also specific information that needs to be in this notice, it must contain: a statement that says proceedings are being instituted in the court in terms of PIE; the date and time of the court hearing; the grounds for the proposed eviction; that the occupier is entitled to appear before the court and defend their case; and that the occupier can apply for legal aid.
The process of getting evicted
Phil and Eunice’s landlord didn’t follow this process, and what’s worse, he tried to take matters into his own hands by throwing their stuff out and changing the locks. This is called spoliation, and it’s illegal. Spoliation is when the landlord takes the law into his own hands. It includes things like changing the locks, switching off the electricity or water, and physically or verbally threatening the tenants to force them to leave.
Phil and Eunice can take legal action against their landlord by applying for a Spoliation Order against him. If they are successful, the landlord will be forced to give them access to the flat again and may even be liable for the legal fees Phil and Eunice incurred to get the Spoliation Order against him.
Phil and Eunice may, in the meantime, get alternate accommodation and hold their landlord liable for the cost.
Scorpion members have access to our 24-hour Legal Contact Centre and can call us anytime, anywhere for legal advice and assistance. They have peace of mind knowing that, when trouble strikes, they’ve got access to lawyers to represent them in court and help them strike back legally.*
* Terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions apply (click here to view the Legal Policy Document). This is only basic advice and cannot be relied on solely. The stories, names, characters and incidents portrayed are used in a fictitious manner.