On 28 May 2020, the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs announced the latest Regulations to the Disaster Management Act, 57 of 2002 (“DMA”) under level 3 of the national lockdown.
We have been advised that level 3 would give a wide relaxation on the restrictions posed by the lockdown and that the economy would go back to almost normal. Unfortunately, the introduction of level 3 has not been in favour of landlords as they remain prohibited from carrying out eviction orders. It should be noted that this has been the position since the introduction of level 5 of the lockdown in March 2020.
Regulation 36(1) and (2) under the DMA have extended the prohibition of evictions under level 3 of the lockdown. These regulations provide as follows:
- (1) “Subject to subregulation (2), a person may not be evicted from his or her land or home during the period of Alert Level 3…”.
- (2) “A competent court may grant an order for the eviction of a person from his or her land or home in terms of the provisions of the Extension of Security of Tenure Act, 1997 (Act No. 62 of 1997) and the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act, 1998 (Act No. 19 of 1998): Provided that an order of eviction may be stayed and suspended until the last day of the Alert Level 3 period, unless a court decides that it is not just and equitable to stay and suspend the order until the last day of the Alert Level 3 period.”
A court may order for an earlier eviction, before the last day of level 3, if the court finds that it is just and equitable. This means that an earlier eviction before the last day of level 3 lies within the discretion of the court based on the circumstances before the court.
The lockdown brought about an economic crisis which may have led to tenants being unable to pay rent. The landlord, on the other hand, relies on the rentals as a source of income and the delay of executing evictions means that there will be no income for landlords. The contractual obligations between the landlord and tenant still exist and as such the right to bring eviction proceedings has not been diminished. The landlord will only be able to execute the eviction order on the last day of level 3.
Author: Zilungile Stimela