Litigation: Tenant wins oral lease dispute in SCA

The SCA has upheld an appeal against a Western Cape High Court decision to evict a Cape Town woman, her 83-year-old mother, and their housekeeper. A Cape Times report says the issue before the SCA was whether any right that Petra Davidan, her mother Helene Schonees, and housekeeper Elizabeth Gunta may have had to occupy the property had been lawfully terminated.

The SCA held that the jurisdictional requirement to trigger an eviction under the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998 (PIE) is that the person sought to be evicted must be an unlawful occupier within the meaning of PIE at the time when the eviction proceedings were launched. The SCA accepted Davidan’s version that she was a tenant under an oral lease. The SCA further found that there was no suggestion that the oral lease agreement was terminated. ‘(Davidan) is not an unlawful occupier in terms of PIE. No case has been made out against the appellant, her mother, or Ms. Gunta therefore the eviction sought against them must fail. It is accordingly unnecessary to consider the second ground on which leave was granted,’ the SCA judgment reads. In a separate dissenting judgment, it was held that the appellant did not have the consent to occupy the property. It was on this basis that the dissenting judge would have dismissed the appeal and upheld the High Court’s eviction order.

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