Pay up or ship out

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

The thought of being evicted from your home for not paying rent is extremely terrifying and most tenants will move heaven and Earth to ensure that this is paid on time. However, evictions are on the increase and as we discussed last week, the fact that tenants are being removed from their homes during the middle of a cold snap has raised numerous concerns with government.

Another article that recently appeared on Times Live highlighted the plight of tenants who had been evicted during what many believe to be the harshest winter South Africa has seen for years.

Interestingly, judging by the picture that accompanied the article, the homes from which the tenants had been evicted appear to be fairly up-market. Even more interesting is the fact that more than 50 families were forced to vacate properties situated in Honeydew, in Johannesburg, at roughly the same time.

The properties concerned were managed by various agencies, one of which stated that none of the 21 families that they had evicted had paid rent since 2012. In other words, the landlords concerned have not only lost that rental income, they have also had to fork out thousands to have these illegal tenants removed.

Landlords need legal protection

While it is tragic that people have been put out on the street, it is becoming clearer by the day that something more has to done to protect the rights of landlords. At this stage it appears that the law is far too biased in favour of the tenant and, while government may argue that tenants need to be protected from unscrupulous landlords, it also needs to remember that landlords need protection from unscrupulous tenants.

The fact that these days a tenant can get a restraining order barring the landlord from entering the property in order to collect rent is just one instance where it appears that the law has lost the plot. No one, regardless of their financial circumstances, should expect to live in a property owned by another party without paying for the privilege.

Government vs private sector

Sadly, there are a growing number of people who believe that it is their right to have a roof over their head and while the need for shelter is obvious, it's government’s responsibility to provide housing for its less fortunate citizens – not the private sector, which is already being heavily taxed.

It has been widely reported that the buy-to-let sector of the market has taken a knock over the past couple of years. As things stand, it's hardly surprising that those who have the means to extend their property portfolios are choosing to adopt a wait-and-see approach before making an investment in real estate.

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