Eviction order process and costs in South Africa

    Evicting a tenant is often tricky for many landlords; we guide you through the proper tenant eviction process.

    When you think of the word eviction, it usually comes with negative connotations and evokes terrible images of cruel landlords tossing their tenants out onto the streets. While particular scenarios involve unfair eviction cases, this is not usually the norm. 

    Current rental housing legislation in South Africa, such as the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act, 1998 (PIE Act), provides tenants with significant protection against the misuse of power by would-be draconian landlords and equally protects the rights of property owners. 

    As a property owner, you have the right to own a property that provides you with valuable income that you can financially benefit from without potential strife from difficult or unruly tenants. 

    Despite the property laws and legislature in place, the worst scenarios do sometimes call for the eviction of your tenants; if you have to go this route, you should familiarise yourself with the necessary eviction order process and the costs you might incur.

    When Do I Consult an Eviction Attorney? 

    However, if your tenant breaches the lease agreement and you cannot resolve this, there might be a real cause for eviction. A breach of the lease can occur for several reasons, from property damages and lease violation to illegal tenant activity; the most common cause for removal is nonpayment of rent. However, as a landlord, you cannot evict a tent for rent arrears alone, and even in the case of rental arrears, the final ruling of eviction falls into the hands of the court.

    Eviction is a legal process and requires you to hire a qualified eviction attorney. While it is tempting to delay or avoid the cost of eviction, this can result in a false economy as the build-up of rent arrears begins to cost you unrecoverable money.

    We highly recommend that you endure the cost of hiring an expert eviction attorney who can limit your losses and restore income-earning status to your property by swiftly resolving the eviction order process; this will save both time and money long term. 

    How Much Will the Eviction Order Process Cost Me?

    The cost of the eviction order process will vary depending on the nature of the situation; if the tenant behaves stubbornly and refuses to vacate the property of their own volition, then the equivalent cost of eviction will increase. 

    An unopposed eviction roughly costs between R10 000 and R15 000. However, once it becomes an opposed eviction, the cost can increase to R100 000 if the process drags on for months. If your attorney follows the correct procedure, the court will award you the eviction order; however, physically evicting the tenant from your property is a separate matter.

    When Do I Need to Involve the Law?

    Once you receive your eviction order from the court, the next step is the physical eviction of your tenant from the premises, which can become a troublesome task, especially if they put up resistance. 

    By law, you cannot legally physically remove them or any of their possessions from your property on your own; only the police have the legal authority to take this action.

    Unfortunately, if you involve the police to evict your tenant forcibly, this could hike up the cost depending on the number of tenants and the size of your property. You should expect to pay between R1000 to R10 000 if you need to involve the law in your eviction process, so it is best to leave this as your last resort after trying all other avenues of conflict resolution.

    What if My Tenant Falls into a Vulnerable Demographic?

    Eviction is never an easy process, but it is ten times more difficult when you have to evict a female tenant who has children, and it can leave you feeling morally confused. There is, however, no need to feel like you have done something wrong. 

    The PIE Act provides special consideration to tenants who fall under specific demographics that class them as vulnerable; these include:

    • Disabled tenants
    • Elderly tenants 
    • Female tenants with childr

    You can still evict these tenants if they breach the lease agreement; however, the law requires you to give these vulnerable tenants more time to locate suitable alternative accommodation before you evict them. Unfortunately, this will add to your lost earnings and increase the cost of eviction, but it will not mount any additional legal fees.

    Can I Claim the Eviction Cost From My Tenant?

    In theory, it is possible to reclaim your eviction charges from your evicted tenant; however, you are less likely to succeed. 

    Recouping your costs from your tenant is near impossible, especially if your tenant defaulted on rent by claiming their inability to pay. You cannot expect a stressed evictee to produce unpaid rent and a five-figure eviction sum, and even if you decide to sue for the money, you will likely get similar results. 

    Can Seeff Help Me With the Eviction Order Process?

    Our rental teams can assist you with any daily landlord responsibilities. As your official representative, we can also help with inspection reports, snag lists, vital handover forms, and lease agreements. All you need to do is sit back and watch us generate income for you. If you are worried about managing your landlord-tenant relationship, we can do this for you and ensure that all parties share a positive leasing experience.

    Seeff has TPN (Tenant Profile Network) registration; TPN falls under the Credit bureau registration. Therefore, we can request a letter of demand from the TPN to blacklist difficult tenants when necessary. We can also send eviction and vacation notice letters through the TPN.

    However, if you struggle with a troublesome tenant who refuses to submit to reason, you need to hire a qualified eviction attorney as your final recourse. 

    You could try to acquire the eviction order yourself, but if you have little experience in rental housing law, you have a dismal chance of success. Eviction attorneys are well-versed in rental housing law and the PIE Act and will ensure you win your case and successfully evict your tenant.

    Seeff has a longstanding relationship with SSLR Incorporated, a team of seasoned professional lawyers with an excellent reputation in the South African real estate industry.

    SSLR’s attorneys specialise in rental law and focus on helping agents and landlords interpret lease agreements and enforce the terms outlined within them. When the need arises, the eviction of illegal occupants from commercial, residential and industrial properties.

    The SSLR advisory team provides objective and legally accurate guidance regarding disputes between tenants and landlords and holds the exclusive responsibility for providing legal rental training to the Seeff Property Group members at a national level since 2018.

    If you urgently require a qualified eviction attorney, don’t hesitate to contact your local Seeff branch to start the process; you may also get in touch with SSLR Incorporated directly. 

    We understand that being a landlord and dealing with the eviction of a problematic tenant is a daunting task for anyone. 

    Before you decide to evict your tenant, we recommend that you read our article on landlord responsibilities in South Africa to familiarise yourself with everything you need to know about being a landlord.

    Author: Seeff Property Group
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