Can you change the locks of your tenant?
QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION WITH MICHELLE VAN HEERDEN
LANDLORD – TENANT ISSUES
As a Landlord it often feels as if the law is on the side of the tenant. It often becomes frustrating for Landlords who are unable to get rid of defaulting tenants in a quick and cost-effective manner.
I often get asked the below questions and have provided some quick answers you may require:
1. CAN YOU CHANGE THE LOCKS OF A DEFAULTING TENANT?
In terms of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (“PIE Act”) the tenant is allowed the use and enjoyment of the property in which he occupies, even if the tenant has defaulted in respect of rental. This often leaves the Landlord will little remedy in respect of the way forward. The Landlord immediately considers the option of changing the locks and throwing the tenants’ belongings onto the street.
Let’s consider what risks the Landlord could face:
• The tenant could bring a court interdict and the landlord is liable for costs;
• the tenant will be allowed back into the property;
What then should the Landlord do to protect himself and his property?
Immediately look at the lease agreement in respect of the breach and cancellation clauses;
• If you decide to cancel the lease, ensure that you have followed the correct procedures in terms of the lease agreement;
• Once the lease has been formally cancelled contact us to advise you on the next step.
What should I do if I have concluded an oral lease?
• If an oral lease exists you may have remedies in terms of the Consumer Protection Act as well as Pie;
• Contact us to advise you on your options.