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Freddie Lombard
Freddie Lombard, Attorney
Category: South Africa Law
Satisfied Customers: 2607
Experience:  Practicing attorney and conveyancer with 16 years post article experience.
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I have tenants in one of my houses that I own. They have not

Customer Question

I have tenants in one of my houses that I own. They have not paid rent for the last two months and have caused damage to my house by having a whole knocked out in the kitchen wall. They refuse to pay both the rent and for the damage because they hold me responsible for a burglary that happened at the premises while they were away. Their contention is that I had purposely misled them by not warning them about the supposed high crime rate in the area. Because of these issues, I have given them notice to leave the premises by latest 31st August 2016.
In order to pressurise them into paying the outstanding rent and the damages, I have thought of placing an advertisement in a regional newspaper (it is my understanding that they are intending moving to Port Elizabeth) which essentially names and shames them. I also intend using social media to do the same.
Could this be interpreted as defamation, even if it is the truth?
JA: Because real estate law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: This is in South Africa
JA: Have you talked to a lawyer yet?
Customer: No
JA: Anything else you think the lawyer should know?
Customer: No
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: South Africa Law
Expert:  Freddie Lombard replied 10 months ago.

Hi there

Thank you for your question. I will try to assist you in answering it today but please feel free to ask as many follow up questions as you like until you are 100% satisfied.

Even though the truth is a defense against defamation I strongly advise against the intended action. Also, truth has a second leg that must be present if you are to use it as a defense. The defamer must prove that the material (defamatory statements) is substantially true and that the public has an advantage or legitimate interest in the material. Both elements must be proven. I can almost guarantee you that it will not have the required result if you proceed to publish the intended advert and it will cause you much stress and heartache and you may end up having to defend yourself against a claim in any event even if you might have a defense.

My advise would be to rather get legal advise to establish if you have cancelled the contract legally and if everything there is sound or else they might deny valid cancellation and stay on in the house.

Secondly, there is no reason whatsoever that you can not sue them for arrears at this stage already and get the sheriff to attach and sell their property if they do not pay. In fact, I always suggest to clients to issue summons while they are still on the property as you will not know where they are moving to later on to serve the summons and the warrant of execution. Also, my experience is that very often when the sheriff attaches property of tenants, they will vacate the property themselves saving you the costs of having to evict them later.

I hope this answered your question.

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Expert:  Freddie Lombard replied 10 months ago.

Hi there

Did you notice my answer that I posted on 30 August 2016 already?