A private property owner’s guide to the legal eviction of unlawful occupants

South Africa is home to approximately 200,000 homeless people, a significant portion of the nation’s population of 53.5 million.

While commendable efforts are being made to combat this, an unlawful occupant may cause considerable loss to a private property owner. In the event of this happening, it is crucial for the property owner to know what process to follow and what the rights of each party are.

The Constitution and the PIE Act

Essentially, residential evictions and land invasions in South Africa are governed by the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act No. 19 of 1998 (hereinafter referred to as “PIE Act” or “Act”). This Act sets out to prevent arbitrary evictions which embodies Section 26 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa which reads that:

“No one may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances. No legislation may permit arbitrary evictions.”

The purpose of the legislation is to regulate both the lawful eviction of unlawful occupiers, and the recognition of land owners’ rights to approach the courts for an eviction order by setting out the procedure to obtain such an order. “

An application under the PIE Act can only be brought if the occupant of the property is an illegal occupant. The grounds for eviction under the PIE Act are as follows:

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