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Landlords Can Evict Tenants Upon Proper Notice Issued By High Court

Eviction of tenants is only legal if proper notice is provided by the High Court, said the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) chief executive officer Joel Abraham.
01 May 2020 10:48
Landlords Can Evict Tenants Upon Proper Notice Issued By High Court

Eviction of tenants is only legal if proper notice is provided by the High Court, said the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) chief executive officer Joel Abraham.

With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting businesses and industries, people have been either sent home on leave without pay, laid off, had pay cuts or are working reduced hours.

This, in turn, has affected those who rent homes and homeowners who have properties on leases.

While some landlords are sympathetic with their tenants, allowing them grace periods, discounts and rent holidays, some, because of their own financial constraints are evicting tenants.

Mr Abraham said landlords had the right to evict tenants provided the correct legal procedure is followed.

There have been reports that some landlords had wrongfully evicted tenants in recent times.

“It must be very clear that no landlord should use this time to evict tenants unlawfully. The law is very clear that for evictions, a court order is required,” Mr Abraham said.

“Various cases have been reported where landlords are verbally putting undue pressure on tenants asking them to move out or find an alternative accommodation without giving proper notices.

“I urge landlords to consider these hard times and show solidarity with our fellow Fijians and empower them during these hard times, making recovery easier for all parties.”

There have been instances where tenants have found themselves locked outside or notices issued which were not from the court.

The commission urged tenants to write to landlords and come to an agreeable term in regards to assistance and if agreed, honour the terms.

“If you are served with an eviction notice, a distress order or court eviction order, please contact FCCC. We will examine your case and assist you under the relevant laws that are available,” Mr Abraham said.

He also indicated that the commission would also help landlords if tenants were not living up to their part of the deal.

Free legal services

Meanwhile, families who are unable to keep up with bill payments because of coronavirus-related job loss and/or financial problems can now access free legal representation from private firm; Lal Patel Bale Lawyers.

In addition to distributing grocery packs to less fortunate families, the lawyers from the firm will be taking on any COVID-19 related cases for rental arrears, eviction notices, distress for rent, electricity and water disconnections.

Associate Kya Lal said they have received considerable response from tenants who are facing rent problems with their landlords.

“We would like them to contact us and we are happy to take up their cases by either contacting their landlords, writing to their landlords to try and halt proceedings or try to ensure that they are not evicted during this time. There are a lot of cases.

“This is all free of charge.”

The firm is also offering free 20 minutes of legal advice or free will drafting for people who can prove that they have given back to the community through donations.

Edited by Caroline Ratucadra

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