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Landlords need protection

10 February 2005

Scores of buildings in Johannesburg have been abandoned by their owners who have been unable to collect rent and yet owe millions for municipal services. Despite attempts to turn Johannesburg into a "world class city" by 2030, some 100 000 people live in squalor in greater Johannesburg. This urban crisis has been caused in part by a lack of legislation necessary to protect the rights of landlords.

In despair, some have just walked away from blocks of flats which they own. Their problems have been compounded by "agents provocateurs", thugs who basically take over and intimidate the occupants to pay rent to them instead, leaving the landlord with municipal debts and bond instalments.

Legal proceedings bring no joy because the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from, and the Unlawful Occupation of, Land Act (Pie Act), err on the side of those who break the law and proceedings against occupiers could take months, and even if judgment is obtained, the sheriff will probably not find any assets to attach.

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