The short answer
Renting RDP houses is technically illegal, but you cannot be evicted without a court order.
The whole question
I have been renting an RDP house since 2000. The owner stayed in the house for two years. He told me I could rent to buy. But after two years ago he told me I must move out because he wants to sell the house when he gets the title deed. Now I need to find a new home for myself and my three children – one is just a baby. What can I do? The people at Human Settlements said I shouldn't pay him rent because the house is not in his name. Should my landlord pay me my rent money back?
The long answer
There are two separate issues here:
Whether the law gives your landlord the right to the title deed even though he has never lived in the house;
Whether it’s possible for him to simply evict you once he gets his title deed.
Let’s start with the title deed:
If your landlord was awarded the house, he does have a legal right to the title deed, even though it has taken such a long time for him to get it. It is the title deed that proves that a person is the legal owner of the house. He will then have the right to sell it.
But as you probably know, the law says that a person who gets an RDP house is not allowed to rent it out. They must live in the house for eight years before they are allowed to sell the house, and they must first offer it to the municipality to buy.
But unfortunately, municipalities don’t seem to be able to enforce the law and very often they turn a blind eye to the illegal renting out of RDP houses.
You could ask the Human Settlements people if the law on renting out RDP houses no longer applies, when it was changed, and what the law is now. You should always keep a note of who you speak to, the date of speaking to them, and their reply. If you are not satisfied with their answers, you could write a letter to the MEC of Human Settlements, which sets out your situation and your complaint against the housing department with names and dates, as well as the address of the house you were renting. You could ask the MEC to clarify what the law is in regard to renting out RDP houses and what the consequences are, if any, for individuals and municipalities that disregard the law.
If you are in the Western Cape, the MEC is Tertuis Simmers.
The contact details for the Human Settlements Head Office in Cape Town are:
Tel: 0860 142 142.
Please Call Me: 079 769 1207.
But, coming to question number 2, whether your landlord has the right to simply evict you once he gets his title deed:
No one in South Africa can be evicted without a court order. This is in terms of the PIE Act of 1998 (which stands for the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land).
The court may grant an eviction order but it first has to be satisfied that it is fair and just to grant the order. The landlord has to apply to the court for a date for the matter to be heard, and he has to give you written notice of the court date. You have a right to tell your side of the story on that day in court, and the court must take account of how the eviction would affect vulnerable people like children before making a decision. The municipality is also required to be in court that day so they can tell the magistrate if they have emergency housing that you and your family can use while you look for another place.
If the eviction order is granted, you will be given the date when you should leave. If you don’t leave on that date, you can be evicted only by the sheriff of the court, not by your landlord.
You could also ask for legal advice and help. The organisation below must assist people who cannot afford a lawyer, and they must also assist in cases of illegal evictions.
Legal Aid -
Tel: 0800 110 110
Please Call Me: 079 835 7179
You could also speak to:
Lawyers for Human Rights -
Tel: 031 301 0531
Ndifuna Ukwazi -
WhatsApp: 063 095 8747
Wishing you the best,
Answered on Feb. 16, 2022, 9:14 a.m.
Please note. We are not lawyers or financial advisors. We do our best to make the answers accurate, but we cannot accept any legal liability if there are errors.