Hijacked buildings are when the legal owner is deprived of their property, land and possessions by the slumlords. The slumlords impose themselves as the rightful owners, collecting rent and acting as body corporates of the hijacked building. The issue of buildings being occupied without the legal owner’s consent has become a common method for slumlords to generate quick profit. A common case with residential flats and apartments, the value of the building as well as the amenities around it depreciates due to the unkempt nature the building becomes.
Because the legal owners are registered at the municipality as being responsible for bills, taxes and utilities, slumlords have no obligation to meet these payment deadlines as they are not identified as the owners and the owners then obtain large amounts owing to the municipality. Should they have requested for the water and electricity be cut off as a means to not accumulating debt, the property’s occupants would likely become violent, destroying what is left of the building’s conditions.
When the rightful owners approach the illegal owners and occupiers of the property, they are violently threatened, making them unable or fearful to return to claim their property. Because everyone has the right to property and housing, their right cannot be imposed on, even in cases of illegal occupation. Seeking legal advice ensures that you are not breaking the law as the rightful owner. An investigation into locating the slumlords is established, as well as the determination of whether the complainant is the rightful owner of the hijacked property. This opportunity also restores the rights of people who are paying exploitive amounts of rent and ensures that their access to basic needs is met. To restore the condition of the building, the occupiers must be offered alternative accommodation and an order must be granted by the court before an eviction can be conducted. Breach of the said order warrants for the arrest of the unrelenting occupier.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)