Answer to a question from a reader

Can a rental officer stop us from living in the house that our deceased relative rented since 1993?

The short answer

Depending on her reasoning, you may need to report her to the Housing Department.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

Our relative had been renting a municipal property since 1993. When he passed in October 2020, our family took over the rent, bought electricity and upgraded the property. Qualifying residents in this area were provided title deeds from the government 10 years ago, but we have received nothing.

Unfortunately, some people broke in and have been illegally occupying the house. We opened a case at the local police station but they need an approved tenant letter to evict the occupants but the municipal rental officer refuses, saying that we need to go on a waiting list for the house. She also prohibited us from seeking legal advice. 

What can we do?

The long answer

It’s not clear why the rental officer should be taking this position when your family had been paying rent for the property since October 2020 when your relative who rented the property died. You should start by asking the rental officer to explain how she sees the situation, and why she does not wish to assist you. If you are not satisfied with her explanation, you could report it to the complaints department of the Housing Department (Human Settlements) here: or the call centre at: 012 358 9999.

You could also try the Housing Enquiries Hotline at 0800 146 873.

If you do not get a satisfactory response from them, you could complain to the MEC of Human Settlements. This is the contact number for housing queries or complaints in Gauteng province: 011 355 4000.

You should note that even if the people occupying the house are occupying it illegally, they cannot be evicted without a court order under the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Prevention of Illegal Occupation of Land Act (PIE) of 1998. Under the present lockdown, even with a court order, the actual eviction will be delayed until the end of the lockdown.

You could also consult organisations that help people who can’t afford a lawyer for advice on your rights.

Legal Aid:

  • Tel: 0800 110 110 (Mon – Fri 8am – 4pm)

  • Please Call Me: 079 835 7179

  • Communications2@legal-aid-co-za

  • Fraud and ethics hotline: 0800 153 728

Wishing you the best,

Answered on Aug. 2, 2021, noon

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