On 29 October 2018, 53 tenants living in Plettenberg Mansions, an apartment building in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, have applied to the Constitutional Court for leave to appeal an eviction order granted against them by the Johannesburg High Court after their landlord, a company called Lewray Investments (Pty) Ltd, sought to renovate the building. SERI represents the tenants.
The High Court granted an order evicting the tenants from their homes in on 23 May 2018 so that the landlord could pursue renovations at the property. Judge Adams granted the order on an urgent basis, in spite of the landlord's failure to cancel the tenants' leases and follow the eviction proceedings in terms of Prevention of Illegal Evictions and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act of 1998 (the PIE Act). The order was framed as a temporary measure, pending the landlord's refurbishment of the building after which the tenants would be permitted to re-occuy "their units" at the property. However, the landlord's refurbishment plans include subdividing the units that tenants were living in, rendering any new units much smaller than the tenants' initial homes. The tenants believe that the eviction is therefore "effectively a permanent eviction through the backdoor" because "their homes will be gone and replaced by new, substantially smaller dwelling units". As rent-paying tenants, their eviction is unlwaful as it conflicts with the Gauteng Unfair Practice Regulations (2001) in terms of the Rental Housing Act of 1999.