FUCHS ROUX 10 CommandmentsThe 10 Commandments of Renting Your Property

You took your time, asked for plenty of advice and eventually invested in a property (or two). Believe it or not, that was the easy part. Now you have to find the best real estate agent to manage your property and oh yes, did we mention that you have to find a trustworthy tenant? We’ve put together a list of absolute rules that every property owner MUST live by when it comes to renting out their property.

I shall always:

  1. Have a solid written contract between myself (as the landlord) and my tenants
  2. Stipulate a fixed term of occupancy
  3. Ask for a deposit from the tenants
  4. Ensure that reference background checks on my tenants are done
  5. Ensure I have additional contact details of my tenants, i.e. next of kin and employment address

And if the tenants default, I shall always:

  1. Ensure the majority of communication with/to my tenant is via email
  2. Prohibit myself from cutting off my tenants’ electricity, switching off their water, changing the locks  and/or doing anything which prohibits them access to – or enjoyment of – the property
  3. Abstain from threatening the tenants to leave the property and/or to repay the outstanding rental
  4. Act according to the Law
  5. Contact Fuchs Roux immediatelyto start the eviction process!

 

The ABC of Evictions

The eviction process is a legal process whereby a landlord (property owner) is able to regain possession of his/her rental property. The correct procedures for this order are found within the Prevention of Illegal Evictions from, and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998 – also known as the PIE Act.

The following 3 steps are used to evict a non-paying tenant or a tenant who has unlawfully occupied your property after the contract has expired:

Step1: NOTIFICATION

Notify the tenant in writing of the breach of contract. This means that you (landlord) have to send a notice to the tenant demanding payment of the outstanding amount. The demand should include a specific date (deadline) and stipulate that, should the tenant fail to make the payment, the lease agreement will be terminated and legal action will be instituted against him/her.

Step 2: THE NOTICE OF MOTION PROCESS

In terms of the PIE Act, an eviction order, granted by the court, is needed to evict a tenant. The Landlord’s Application (Notice of Motion) for such an eviction order is served, by the Sheriff, on both the tenant/unlawful occupant and the relevant municipality where the property is situated. The tenant/unlawful occupier has to receive the application no less than 14 days prior to the court date. This application will contain the reasons for the request to seek an eviction order. The tenant then has the option to oppose the eviction application, or not.

Step 3: COURT HEARING

The Court is obliged to consider all the relevant facts and relating these to the eviction application. Both parties will have the opportunity to present their arguments concerning the eviction. If the landlord’s application is successful, the court will issue an Eviction Court Order specifying that the tenant should vacate the premises of the property within a certain time frame.

Lawful removal of tenants: If an order is granted against the tenant yet he/she does not abide by the eviction order, the local Sheriff then has the authority to forcefully remove the tenant.

Remember: If the incorrect procedure is followed or an unlawful eviction takes place, it could lead to the non-paying tenant occupying the property indefinitely. This is known as “spoliation”. Spoliation will include acts like disconnecting electricity or water supplies to a property, changing locks or evicting a tenant by intimidation or force, i.e. ‘taking the law into one’s own hands.’ The court may decide that the eviction was illegal and that the landlord should provide temporary or alternative housing and pay the legal costs.

Time Frame: The time frame of an eviction application can be anything between a few weeks to a few months. This all depends on whether or not the correct eviction procedures were followed. Was there an appropriate rental or lease agreement in place? Does the tenant contest the eviction application?

Navigating the law when it comes to your rights as a property owner vs the rights of a person renting and residing in the property can be difficult, but as usual we are more than happy to help with any issues or answer any questions you may have. Please do not hesitate to contact the Fuchs Roux Inc office on 012 3427911 or email infor@frlaw.co.za today.