The lockdown situation has left many tenants and landlords in precarious positions. Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, advises that each party take some time to clearly understand their rights and responsibilities over this period.

“The Minister passed a Government Gazette that places a moratorium on eviction orders during the higher Alert Levels of  the lockdown. This means that, even if the landlord is in possession of an eviction order, he/she cannot execute/action the eviction order for the time being. Under Alert Level 3, the moratorium on evictions remains similar to the regulations under Level 4 Lockdown. Currently, a landlord is able to apply for an eviction order from the court and the Judge is able to grant the eviction order, however the landlord cannot action the eviction order until the moratorium/prohibition is lifted. The minute evictions are allowed, they can evict the tenant. Until then, unfortunately, landlords cannot physically evict their tenant,” Goslett explains.

An eviction can be actioned during Alert Level 3 but only if the Court deems it to be “just and equitable cause”. This would be the instance when you have a property hijacking with illegal tenants, illegal squatters etc. 

Unless you and your landlord have come to an agreement, Goslett clarifies that rent still needs to be paid as per normal. “While a tenant cannot be evicted until the lockdown eases to allow for this, they can be forced to vacate the premises once the lockdown period is over (depending on the terms in the lease agreement). If the tenant is having difficulty paying rent, I would strongly encourage them to communicate this with the landlord so that they can possibly come to a mutually beneficial payment plan,” he advises.

Tenants are also cautioned to consider the negative effects an eviction will have on their credit score as well as their ability to rent another property. “Not only could being evicted make it trickier for a tenant to successfully apply for new tenancy, but it could also affect their credit score if the landlord obtains a debt judgement against him/her for the missed payments. This will greatly impact the tenant’s ability to acquire home finance at a later stage,” Goslett explains.

Subsequently, Goslett again encourages all tenants to be in contact with their landlord if they are unable to pay their full rent during the lockdown. “I also encourage all landlords to be accommodative where possible during this difficult time. If the landlord can afford it, allow the tenant to take a payment holiday or to suggest a payment plan that could suit both parties. At the end of the day, we are all facing the impact of this crisis together and should do what we can to help each other get through these trying times,” he concludes.