A member of our eviction team will contact you within 48 hours.
If you are going to court for the first time and do not have a lawyer, do these two things:
Once your case is called and you are asked to approach the witness stand, you must state that you want to oppose your eviction.
Request a postponement from the judge in order for you to find legal representation for yourself. At your first appearance, the judge should always grant a postponement.
Any further postponements to your case will require evidence of an effort on your part to find legal representation.
Do not feel rushed into representing yourself! As long as you have proof that no pro bono (free) lawyer is available to take your case, you should be granted an extension.
After opposing your eviction and finding a lawyer (or choosing to represent yourself), both sides will present their arguments.
Remember, you can only argue what has been written in your affidavits. No new evidence, information, or arguments can be brought before the court unless there has been a 'relevant and material' change to the circumstances of the parties.
It is vital that you have submitted documents to the court that backup your case. You cannot decide to provide alternative information in court if it is not present in your affidavit.
At any stage before the court has ruled, you can come to an agreement with your landlord and settle the matter.
Often your landlord will make a settlement offer. Sometimes it is fair, sometimes it may not be. Remember, you do not have to accept this offer. Always consult with a lawyer!
Offers may be presented at short notice before going to court. Do not feel rushed! Tell your landlord you would like to take your time to consider the offer and seek advice. If your landlord or their lawyer won't give you at least 24 hours to consider a settlement agreement, then they are probably trying to rush you into signing something that is unfair.
A court order is the official ruling from the court stating whether you are evicted or not. If you are evicted, the order will state by when you have to leave the property.
The order by the judge will clearly state by when you will need to leave the property. Even if you are evicted, this date will usually take into account your circumstances and allow sufficient time for alternative arrangements to be made. If this date gives you less than a month to vacate, you should consider making an appeal.
There will also be a date specified by which, if you have not left the property, the Sheriff will be allowed to physically remove you. This is called the “execution date”, and it is usually a few days after the eviction date
Make sure you know where the court is. You must be at the court before 9am on the day of your hearing. You can even go to court before your court date, just to get familiar with the court and how long it will take you to get there.
If you are in the Cape Town or Wynberg Magistrates’ Courts, Reclaim the City are happy to come with you to show you around. They can help you find the right courtroom and what to expect when you have your first appearance in court.
Once you have told the court you are opposing your eviction, ask for a postponement to find legal representation. At this point it will help to show proof of any attempts you have made to find legal representation.
Your landlord or their lawyers may present you with a settlement offer before your court appearance. DO NOT RUSH INTO ACCEPTING ANY OFFERS. Take your time and seek advice from a lawyer or housing activists like Reclaim the City. Make sure you fully understand the offer before you sign anything. Do not feel pressured!
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