What is an unlawful occupant?

City of Cape Town officials shut the windows of a council house, in Tafelsig, where a family, including five children, were evicted.

Stuart Diamond, the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for assets and facilities management, said an unlawful occupant was a person who had moved into a vacant rental unit without the council’s authorisation; had forced the tenant out of the rental unit; had been left behind by a vacating tenant; and had occupied the unit when the tenant died and was not a family member of the original household, including families living in backyard structures.

The City’s Allocation Policy, as approved in 2015, allows for the following conditions:

If the tenant was in sole occupation, the rental unit is allocated to the next qualifying applicant from the central housing database; and if the deceased tenant left family members or dependants behind.

In the event of the death of a spouse or partner, the tenancy may be transferred to the surviving spouse or partner on the death of the tenant. The tenancy commences the day after the death of the tenant as recorded on the death certificate.

In the event of death of the surviving partner or spouse, the remaining occupants are the minor children of the deceased tenant, the tenancy may be transferred to a legally appointed guardian, taking full responsibility for the tenancy, until the eldest child reaches the maturity age of 18 years when responsibility for the tenancy will be reviewed.

Mr Diamond said the sub-lessor or unlawful occupants who moved in after March 1 2006, must vacate, failing which legal action will be taken for their eviction unless of course they are the next qualifying applicants for assistance as per the central housing database.

In terms of the agreement of the lease, a tenant may not take in sub-tenants – this would be in direct contravention of the lease.

Any eviction is subject to a court order. Mr Diamond said the City follows due process and individual cases are dealt with according to the relevant regulations.