Advice and Opinion

STBB Thought Of The Week: Non-Paying Tenants? Don't Delay!

It has been an ongoing debate since the inception of the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 (the CPA) as to whether the provisions thereof apply to residential leases.

The general consensus seems to be that it does apply – which brings Section 14 (applicable to fixed term leases) into play. The only exceptions to Section 14 are leases that have been concluded between juristic persons, regardless of their annual turnover or asset value.

Most landlords will be familiar with the provisions of Section (14)(2)(b)(i)(bb) which allow a tenant to cancel any lease agreement, concluded for a fixed period, upon 20 business days’ written notice to the landlord, subject to payment of all rental due up to the date of cancellation of the lease and the payment of a reasonable penalty.

Section 14(2)(b)(ii) has far reaching consequences for a landlord struggling with a non-paying tenant. It provides that irrespective of any provision of the lease governing cancellation thereof in the event of a breach by the tenant, i.e a failure to pay rent, the landlord is obliged to give the tenant 20 business days’ notice to remedy his/her breach and may only proceed to cancel the lease (and proceed with steps to have the tenant evicted and recover the rental due) upon failure by the tenant to do so within this period.

Given that the procedures in the well known PIE Act to evict a non-paying tenant could take up to three months, it is imperative that any landlord immediately proceeds with the required statutory notice – don’t delay!

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