Prevention of Illegal Eviction from & Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998 (PIE Act)

Information on Evictions:

Information on EvictionsThe PIE Act (as it is more commonly known) plays a big role when the relationship between lessors and lessees turn sour.  The PIE Act applies to unlawful occupiers of land situated in both rural and urban areas.  The ESTA Act (Extension of Security of Tenure Act 62 of 1997) only applies to “occupiers of rural land”.  In the context of lease, residential lessees of rural land will by definition be ESTA occupiers and so PIE will by default only apply to lessees of urban land.

The PIE Act sets out procedural and substantive requirements that must be satisfied before a Court may grant an order for eviction.  The procedural protection that PIE affords lessees is that the Court must, at least 14 days before the matter is due to be heard (in Court) serve written notice of the Court proceedings on the lessee and the local municipality.  If the lessee has been in occupation of the property for more than 6 months, which will be the case in the majority of lease-related PIE cases, the municipality must furnish the Court with a report on its ability to provide alternative accommodation, should the lessee be evicted.

When granting an eviction order the Court does not simply look at whether the lease was properly terminated.  The Court has to decide whether the granting of an eviction order will be just and equitable taking into consideration all the relevant circumstances in a case.  The Court can decide what is deemed to be relevant in each case, but the Act stipulates that the rights and needs of the elderly, children, the disabled and households headed by woman must be taken into consideration.  In addition and if the lessee has been in occupation for longer than 6 months, the Court must consider whether alternative accommodation has been or can reasonably be made available by the municipality, another organ of state or another landowner.  When the property has been sold in a sale in execution pursuant to a mortgage, the Court need not consider the availability of alternative accommodation even if the lessee has been in occupation for longer than six months.

When the lessee seeks to rely on his/her personal circumstances in resisting an eviction order, it has been held that the evidential onus is on the lessee to ensure that all relevant information is placed before the Court.  The Court is nevertheless expected to be proactive in satisfying itself that all relevant information has been placed before it, utilising its powers to investigate and to call for further evidence when necessary.

The rights of all the parties involved are taken into consideration- The lessee’s personal circumstances VS the harm suffered by the lessors, third parties and the public.  The Court therefore takes all relevant repercussions- national, social and economic into consideration when deciding if it is fair and equitable to evict a lessee.

It can also be noted that PIE can give rise to serious abuses, particularly when able-bodied lessees in regular employment exploit the provisions of PIE to delay their eviction, while parasitically occupying the property to the financial detriment of the lessor.

It has been held that unlawful occupiers cannot expect to remain in indefinite occupation at the expense of the lessor/owner.  It has also been held that it will generally not be just and equitable to grant an eviction order where the effects of the eviction order would be to render the occupiers of the property “homeless” due to their inability to afford alternative accommodation.

Under the PIE Act a Court must grant an order for eviction if the lease was lawfully terminated and it is of the view that it would be just and equitable to grant the eviction.


“Amended Extract from Principles of the Law of Sale & Lease”- 3rd Edition- G Bradfield and K Lehmann”-


1.    Consult an Attorney to draft a proper lease agreement.

2.    When a lessee falls in arrears take immediate action against him by sending off a letter of demand for outstanding costs (i.e. rental, municipal accounts etc.)

3.    When a lessee fails to comply with the letter of demand cancel the lease agreement and request that he and all occupiers vacate the property.

4.    Send all correspondence in accordance with the “breach” and “domicilium” clauses stated in the lease agreement.  Most lease agreements stipulate that notices must be sent via registered mail and/or delivered by hand to the leased premises.  Should you deliver notices by hand make sure the lessee signs for the notice.

5.    Make sure you comply with the time periods stated in the lease agreement.

6.    Keep copies of all notices sent;

7.    Keep the original registered slips.


1.    Make sure the deed of sale guarantees vacant occupation on transfer.

2.    If not, make sure the Transferring Attorneys retain monies of the Sellers on trust pending the outcome of the eviction application.

For further queries and/or tips please contact Janine Smit- (021 943 5111) and/or email her at


  1. Lerato says:

    Hi, I’m renting a shop and I owe 2/3 months rental, I rental, I received a letter of lease cancellation for thE 30 June.
    Now 2 weeks ago, I got to the shop and there’s a big lock around the door, with all my stuff inside. Please advise if this is appropriate,
    And what actions can I take

    • Leonie Adonis says:

      Good day Lerato

      As you were behind in your rental figures, the landlord of the property is permitted to claim the rental amount from you and to obtain a court order stating that you are not to remove any items off the premises until such time the rent has been paid. As this involves the rental of a commercial lease it is unfortunately difficult to provide you with detailed advice without being able to view the agreement of lease. I would suggest you contact your litigation attorney immediately to peruse the lease agreement. If you are still within the lease period the landlord should not be able to lock you out but as this is a commercial transaction, the contents of the lease will be the ultimate arbiter of where your rights stand.

  2. Lee-Ann says:

    Hi there

    I have received an notification of cancellation of my rental agreement and this notification demands that I vacate the premises immediately which I am not able to do as my daughter and I do not have a place to go to.

    I will highly appreciate it if I can get assistance. I live in Johannesburg.

    Kind regards

    • Leonie Adonis says:

      Hi Ms Christe

      The issue revolves around the contents of your lease agreement. If your agreement has not expired the landlord cannot ask you to vacate the property prematurely unless you have agreed to such a condition in the contract. For instance, if your contract says it only expires at the end of August 2016, you are entitled to stay until the end of August.

      If the time period for the agreement of lease has expired, the Rental Housing Act provides that you must be given a one calendar month notification to vacate the property (i.e. if you receive notice in February, you need to be out of the premises by the end of March).

      At the end of the notice period, the landlord is entitled to initiate eviction proceedings to have you removed. Should it be the case that you have no where to go, you would in all likelihood have to convince a magistrate of this fact but they may not necessarily rule in your favour. In my experience, the courts will typically rule that the tenant must vacate the property if the proper procefures of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction Act have been followed.

      Hope that assists you.

      Kind regards,
      Attorney: Byron White at ESI

  3. Ronel Middleton says:

    I would like to know can a new tenant that’s renting to buy, walk I and tell the tenant at present to move.
    When I ask where is m written notice I was told its not there problem. what can I do. we are two women an two little boys. we have been everywhere looking for a place and cant find anything. we live in komaipoort

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