OpenUp has added legal resources such as Legal Aid, the Legal Practice Council, and the Rental Housing Tribunal for all 9 provinces in South Africa.
Find free legal support here: https://evictions.org.za/legal-support
In late 2020, while the COVID-19 lockdowns were in full swing, landlords were taking the opportunity of the upcoming holidays to remove unwanted tenants. Many of the families who came to the Eviction Guide website looking for help complained of what at face value seemed to be unlawful evictions and intimidation from unscrupulous landlords.
What stood out though was a request asking for information on legal services in provinces other than the Western Cape. For a number of reasons, not least of which was a lack of capacity (aka finances), we built the site in partnership with Ndifuna Ukwazi (NU), and it focused predominantly on Cape Town – where both OpenUp and NU are based.
We did not have the resources to directly support tenants beyond Cape Town, so the website we built had to be geographically constrained. Cut to the lockdown that started in early 2020 and the site was flooded with thousands of tenants from across the country looking for advice.
The site grew in a matter of months from an average of 350 monthly users to a peak of 4500 (a nearly 1 200% increase). Sadly, the most popular search term to get to the site was some variant of “can I be evicted during lockdown?”. During a time when lawful court evictions were put on hiatus, the act of forcing tenants out unlawfully skyrocketed. When society needed to come together, for many, things started falling apart.
So when that request came through our website feedback channels requesting legal resources in provinces other than the Western Cape, we had to act. We have now added contact details for all Legal Aid offices, Legal Practice Councils, Rental Housing Tribunals, and some NGO and other law clinics across the country. We are also doing research into non-governmental law clinics and will be adding those as and when we find them.
Are you a lawyer or law clinic who wants to end unlawful evictions and eviction into homelessness?
If you are a lawyer, whether from a law clinic or elsewhere, that provides free or affordable eviction support and would like your details up on the website, please let us know by emailing email@example.com. Additionally, we are currently in a research consolidation phase where we are reviewing our tools and stakeholders in anti-eviction support networks. If you are interested in contributing in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.