Eviction – a word that drives fear into the heart of any landlord. We have seen a decline of 5% in rental payment across in the rental market, translating to an increased amount of evictions. Less tenants pay on time and many do not pay rent at all, around 8% of tenants must be evicted.
Eviction can be a time-consuming and costly exercise if not dealt with correctly. A Landlord can however mitigate his risk by taking a few critical steps.
The first is using a properly drafted lease agreement, it is not necessary to pay an arm and a leg for this. There are lease agreements like the TPN LeasePack lease that is affordable and well drafted. A lease agreement must give the landlord the protection he needs. The landlord must be in a secure position to cancel the agreement, should the tenant be in breach of any term of the agreement. A good lease agreement will also have the effect that both parties would understand their rights and responsibilities, reducing the risk of breach.
Secondly, proper Tenant vetting is essential. This includes a credit check, confirmation of employment and contacting the previous landlord to ensure that the tenant was indeed a good paying tenant that took proper care of the property. Do a deed search to confirm that the previous owner is indeed the owner of the property the prospective tenant rented from.
Number three would be to act. Immediate action is the best way to ensure that a non-paying tenant is removed from the property quickly. If the tenant does not pay his rent on the day as agreed to in terms of the lease agreement, a letter placing the tenant on terms and demanding that he remedy his breach, either in terms of the lease agreement or the Consumer Protection Act, should this apply, will ensure effective cancellation and will allow commencement of eviction proceedings.
Four: do not attempt DIY evictions. Any form of interference with an occupant’s occupation, for instance disconnection of utility supply without a court order or allowing other people to take occupation with the occupant is spoliation and will lead to successful court proceedings in favour of the tenant, this can also delay eviction proceedings.
The fifth is to stop sending any further correspondence or invoices as this can potentially lead to reinstatement of the lease agreement or an extension of the right of occupation. The best process to follow on cancellation of the lease agreement or even before that, is to instruct specialist attorneys to attend to the eviction. Specialist attorneys will handle the process effectively which will save the landlord time and money.