16 February 2013

Uganda: Six Questions On . . . Evicting Tenants

What is the procedure of evicting tenants? Samuel Kiwanuka is a lawyer with Sam Kiwanuka & Company Advocates. Christopher Bendana interviewed him about evictions.

Q: When can a tenant be evicted?

A: When there is breach in the tenancy agreement, though the tenant must be given a notice. In most cases when a tenant defaults on an agreement, the landlord will issue an eviction notice stating what the tenant has breached.

It can be written by the property owner or, if possible by his/her lawyer. Other common breached issues are the number of people allowed to stay on property, issues with maintenance and payment of utility bills. A notice can be of one, two or three months.

Where is the eviction notice delivered?

It can be delivered to the tenant's premises, tenant's postal address or last known address, even if he or she is not around. After the expiry of the days stipulated in the notice, the landlord can lawfully evict the tenant.

Why are landlords sometimes unable to evict tenants?

There is generally a legal challenge these days; the lawful enforcement agencies like Police do not want to evict people. Police say they only do evictions sanctioned with an order from court.

The court process to get an eviction order is long. It requires the landlord to first file a suit.

On the other hand, after a landlord has delivered an eviction notice to the tenant, he/she can legally evict the tenant. Here the tenant is treated like a trespasser though the landlord can only evict with reasonable force if he/she feels the eviction may be violent.

How can one carry out a successful eviction?

Engage the local council officials and if possible, the Police. They should be around when you are evicting as witnesses to the action. If you beat people or destroy property of the tenant you will be charged.

Does the tenant pay during the notice period?

Legally they are supposed to pay unless exempted by the landlord

What about a tenant without a tenancy agreement? How is he/she protected?

The law will impute the existence of the landlord/tenant relationship depending on the mode of payment of rent. If the payment is weekly, the tenants will be given a week's notice.

If it's a month they will be given a month, if it's three months, they will be given three months. The only exception is for tenants paying annually; they will be given six months.

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