Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (PIE) (1998)
In sum, PIE provides procedures for eviction of unlawful occupants and prohibits unlawful evictions. The main aim of the Act is to protect both occupiers and landowners. The owner or landlord must follow the provisions of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (PIE) (except in areas where ESTA operates) if they want to evict a tenant.
-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.
Who is covered?
- 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
When is an eviction lawful?
- 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:
- give the occupier notice of his/her intention of going to court to get an eviction order.
- apply to the court to have a written notice served on the occupier stating the owner’s intention to evict the occupier.
- 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 notice must contain the following:
- 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 the case
- that the occupier can apply for legal aid
- The unlawful occupier can go to the court hearing on the day it is set down and defend themselves if they believe the eviction is unfair.
- A person who wants to defend the court action should approach the Justice Centre at the Magistrate’s court for assistance. An occupier threatened with eviction can apply for legal aid assistance and representation.
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.
If the court grants an eviction order:
- The eviction order will state a date by when you have to leave the land, and also the date on which the eviction will take place if you do not vacate the land.
- The court order may also make an order for your buildings to be demolished.
Who can remove you?
- Only the sheriff of the court can carry out an eviction.