UPDATE: There have been amendments to the alert level 4 regulations around moving houses – read those here.
I ventured out of my apartment on Wednesday to receive the package I’d ordered just before the national lockdown to find a disgruntled man arguing with security.
We took the lift up to my floor, where, he told me, he was supposed to be living from May 1, according to the lease he’d signed just before the lockdown went into effect.
Since then he’s been spending money in an Airbnb, which he can’t afford to pay for on top of rent if he wants to keep his new flat. Security wouldn’t let him move in because they said it would violate regulations.
Alert level 4 has brought with it a great deal of confusion, exacerbated by mixed signals on certain fronts from the COVID-19 Command Council.
Many thought that the lowering of restrictions would enable them to move out of their current residences.
“But it was not to be”, writes Wendy Knowler for TimesLIVE:
Level 4 lockdown regulations, published on April 29, don’t mention removal companies or moving home specifically.
…The situation is causing unprecedented havoc in the property industry.
“There are tenants in properties whose leases are up and they want to leave, but can’t, and tenants who have been legally evicted, but are forced to remain in the property because it’s illegal to move in terms of the Disaster Management Act,” says Marlon Shevelew, who specialises in rental property law.
The pandemic has led to job losses, and economic strife, which means that a number of people would ideally move in with friends or family. Others, like my would-be-neighbour, need to move into the homes they secured before April, while others simply cannot afford the double rent they’d need to pay for two properties.
Rumours have done the rounds that you can acquire a permit to move from a police station. This isn’t the case.
Michelle Dickens, MD of TPN Credit Bureau, an authority on tenant behaviour in SA, said such permits were merely affidavits confirming the address of the new lease and that the tenants gave themselves “permission” to move on May 1.
Then there’s the issue of how one would move. Moving companies are not allowed to operate under the current regulations.
National removals company Eezi Move’s COO Chris Davel said the company’s clients had been pushing them to release their possessions which they’ve had in storage since lockdown, unable to transport them to their new homes.
You can move to the residence of someone else provided they live in a different province, but you can’t move to a new address. This is why evictions due to termination of lease are currently forbidden.
As it stands, people are paying bond instalments on homes they can’t move into, as well as rent on the place they desperately want to leave, but can’t. Others are being asked to pay rent on two properties.
There is going to be “a tremendous amount” of litigation arising from this inability to move, Shevelew said.
“Tenants being sued for rent, landlords defaulting on their bonds … ”
This sounds like another ill-thought-out strategy for lockdown from the National Command Council.
In the interim, if you need somewhere to store your possessions while you wait things out in an Airbnb, or if you’re making your way to a different province to be with family, Stor-Age is offering contact-free online move-ins.
You’ll fill out the paperwork online, following which you can safely store away your belongings until you need them again.
Give them a call on 0861 18 18 18 to find out more.
2oceansvibe readers also get 50% off their first month’s rent, so take a look at their locations list to find an option near you.
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