FEW things more frustrating for a property owner than being saddled with a tenant who simply refuses to move out, says JP Farinha, general manager of Property24.com.
Sure, there are laws in place to prevent illegal occupation, but once a lease is signed, forcibly removing that troublesome lessee can prove to be a very difficult and expensive process.
The controversial new Prevention of Illegal Eviction (PIE) Act means that tenants who breach the terms of your lease – whether by hammering holes through your walls, refusing to make rental payments or turning your property into an unsavoury establishment – may not necessarily be legally bound to leave.
Don’t take matters into your own hands
Luckily, there are ways to go about enforcing eviction, provided that you stick carefully to the correct legal procedures stipulated in this act.
Threats of violence and sabotage simply aren’t going to get the job done, and changing the locks on your property can constitute an illegal eviction, which will only serve to weaken your case should the matter be taken to court. So before you enforce your own brand of vigilante justice, take a moment to consider the most effective and speedy way to get the result you want.
Get a court order
The most important thing to remember is that you cannot evict a tenant yourself. While many landlords dream of frogmarching their troublesome tenants off their property, eviction can only be officially carried out by a court order.
While this process isn’t free, the departing tenant should be obliged to reimburse your legal fees, as well as any outstanding rent money, at a later stage.
Offer an alternative
The PIE act also stipulates that tenants being asked to leave your property need to be provided with an "equable solution". Essentially, before giving your lessee the boot, you’ll need to prove that you’ve given them a range of alternative rental solutions, all within the same price range and area.
While the thought of assisting your tenant in their property search may not thrill you, you will end up saving time, money and stress by strictly adhering to the terms of the PIE act.
Property owners have, in the past, had criminal charges laid against them as a result of bypassing this element of the eviction process, so while providing a helping hand might be the last thing on your priority list, it will give your tenant very little room for legal recourse.
While there’s no proven way to ensure that you aren’t housing the next Charles Manson, you can reduce your risk by taking out some form of rental risk cover.
This form of insurance can at least protect you against any form of property damage, and ensure that all your rental payments and legal costs will ultimately be covered.
You would also be well advised to perform thorough credit and reference checks prior to leasing your property as a precautionary measure.
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