Prevention Of Illegal Eviction Act

19 of 1998

The Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (PIE) is an act of the Parliament of South Africa which came into effect on 5 June, 1998, and which sets out to prevent arbitrary evictions.

In terms of the Constitution of South Africa, “No one may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances. No legislation may permit arbitrary evictions.” PIE sets out the procedure to be followed in the case of such evictions

The eviction procedure excludes the rei vindicatio and other common-law remedies for the vindication of ownership rights. PIE has application also where the occupation was lawful to begin with but became unlawful later. Different procedures are set out under PIE for private owners, urgent applications and organs of state. Notice must be given within fourteen days of the hearing and should include the following:

  • notification that proceedings have been instituted;
  • the date of the hearing;
  • the grounds for the proceedings; and
  • information as to the right of appearance.

In the case of private owners, the court will consider the length of the occupation. If it has been less than six months, an eviction order will be made only if it is “just and equitable” to do so, “after considering all the relevant circumstances, including the rights and needs of the elderly, children, disabled persons and households headed by women.” If it has been more than six months, the eviction order must still be just and equitable, but the circumstances to consider are compounded by the question of “whether land has been or can reasonably be made available for the relocation of the unlawful occupier.” An exception to this is “where the land is sold in a sale of execution pursuant to a mortgage.”

Urgent applications are granted where harm is eminent “to any person or property if the unlawful occupier is not forthwith evicted from the land,”, where “the likely hardship to the owner or any other affected person exceeds the likely hardship to the unlawful occupier,” and where no other effective remedy is available.

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