Evictions – the 'unlawful occupier'

24 Feb 2012

The Prevention of and Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (“the PIE Act”) was promulgated in 1998. 

In terms of Section 4 of the Act, an owner wanting to evict an unlawful occupier from any land in South Africa has to take various additional steps laid out in Section 4 of the PIE Act. 

An unlawful occupier is defined in the PIE Act as a person who occupies land without the consent of the owner or person in charge of the land or without any other right in law to occupy the land. 

The definition of unlawful occupier is currently very wide and therefore means that owners of land who wish to evict their ordinary residential tenants need to comply with the additional procedures of the Act. 

Currently, I understand the talk to be that the legislature will be debating or has debated an amendment to the PIE Act, which will then be available for public comment. 

I understand the debate to revolve around amending the definition of an unlawful occupier to exclude a party who previously occupied such land for residential purposes with the owner’s consent, meaning a tenant. 

If such amendment is passed, a tenant who once occupied the land with the landlord’s consent may no longer be defined as an unlawful occupier.  The landlord on taking steps to evict the tenant may not then have to comply with Section 4 of the PIE Act. 

These steps by the legislature will be welcomed by land owners in South Africa and will result in eviction attorneys being able to more swiftly obtain eviction orders against defaulting tenants. - Alan Levy

Alan Levy Attorneys specialise in eviction, providing advice on the eviction process and services in evictions in South Africa and Johannesburg.    

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