Although cutting your tenant’s electricity or changing their locks may seem like a good idea at the time, it is in fact a bad idea and automatically puts you, as a landlord, in the wrong.
South African Law requires that landlords that are in dispute with their tenants must approach the courts for assistance and cannot take matters into their own hands.
No matter how strong a landlord’s case, if they remove their tenant’s access to their leased premises without a court order, they face having to restore possession to the tenant via a “spoliation order”.
All that will count in the eyes of the court is how the landlord dispossessed the tenant, not whether they are the owner nor whether they have any legal right to possession.
To succeed in obtaining a spoliation order, all a tenant must prove is:
However, the court rejected all these contentions and held that the landlord had committed two separate acts of spoliation –
Resulting in the landlord paying all costs, immediately restoring possession of the leased premises to the tenant, and immediately re-connecting the electricity.
Many disputes between landlords and tenant have risen due to the uncertainty caused by the national lockdown in South Africa. With careful negotiation supported by our legal professionals, disputes can easily be avoided.
Please feel free to contact our attorneys in Cape Town and Johannesburg with any additional questions that were not answered in this article.
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