What happens if you can’t pay rent during lockdown?

Due to the national lockdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, there is much confusion in the rental property market and a tenant’s obligation to pay rent.

The Western Cape Rental Housing Tribunal has noted that the national government has issued a moratorium on all evictions for the lockdown period.

In addition, the group said that there are a number of existing rules in place for non-payment, including:

  • In terms of section 26 of the Constitution: “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.”
  • A tenant may not be evicted without a court order even if the tenant is in breach of the rental agreement e.g. non-payment of rent.

“I call on owners and tenants where there might be disputes to duly attempt to find each other during this challenging period,” said provincial minister of Human Settlements in the Western Cape Tertuis Simmers.

“It is also critical that no attempt be made, by either party, to manipulate the current situation and rather act in good faith,” he said.

“All of our efforts should at this stage go into adhering to all the lockdown prescripts, whether this relates to rental regulations, remaining at home, keeping our social distance or maintaining good and effective hygiene practices.”

While South African should act in good faith, the tribunal noted that the national government has not issued any regulations granting tenants a rental payment holiday for the lockdown period.

During this lockdown period it stands to reason that some tenants might experience some difficult in meeting their monthly obligations in terms of rent.

Should a tenant be unable to pay rent due to loss of income as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, the parties are advised to discuss the matter and attempt to come to an amicable solution, it said.

“A landlord should be considerate and understanding. Tenants must also bear in mind that landlords also have financial obligations.

“If parties are able to reach an agreement, the agreement should be put in writing. Each situation will have its own unique circumstances and therefore solutions to each situation should be considered accordingly.”


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What happens if you can’t pay rent during lockdown?