The PIE Act provides procedures for eviction of unlawful occupants and prohibits unlawful evictions. The main aim of the Act is to protect both occupiers and landowners.
An unlawful occupier of the land is defined as a person who occupies land without the express or tacit permission of the owner or the person in charge. Tacit permission is when the owner is aware of the occupant being on the land or premises but does nothing to stop this.
Anyone who is an unlawful occupier, which includes tenants who fail to pay their rentals and bonds, is covered by PIE. It excludes anyone who qualifies as an ‘occupier’ in terms of the Extension of Security of Tenure Act
For an eviction to happen lawfully, certain procedures must be followed. If any one of them is left out, the eviction is unlawful. So, if an owner wants to have an unlawful occupier evicted, they must do the following:
1. give the occupier notice of his/her intention of going to court to get an eviction order.
2. apply to the court to have a written notice served on the occupier stating the owner’s intention to evict the occupier.
3. The court must serve the notice at least 14 days before the court hearing. The notice must also be served on the municipality that has jurisdiction in the area.
The court will only give an eviction order if it is proved that:
the person who is applying to evict you, is in fact the owner of the land
you are an unlawful occupier
the owner has reasonable grounds to ask for your eviction
the local authority or any other owner of land in the area can make alternative land available for you
The Act also allows for urgent eviction proceedings. This will be granted if the owner can show that:
there is real danger of substantial injury or damage to any person or property
there is no other way to solve this situation
the owner is going to suffer more if the occupier stays on the land, than the occupier will suffer if he or she gets evicted In such a case, the owner can go to court and get a final order for the eviction.
Only the sheriff of the court can carry out an eviction.
In the case of private owners, the court will consider the length of the occupation. If it has been less than six months, an eviction order will be made only if it is “just and equitable” to do so, “after considering all the relevant circumstances, including the rights and needs of the elderly, children, disabled persons and households headed by women.” If it has been more than six months, the eviction order must still be just and equitable, but the circumstances to consider are compounded by the question of “whether land has been or can reasonably be made available for the relocation of the unlawful occupier.” An exception to this is “where the land is sold in a sale of execution pursuant to a mortgage.”
If your landlord takes law in own hands, it will be a criminal offense, and the landlord can be charged as such.