The constitutional protection of those facing eviction from “bad buildings”
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The Constitutional Court’s judgment in the Olivia case, handed down on 19 February 2008, represents a victory for the occupiers of “bad buildings” in the inner city of Johannesburg as well as other poor people facing eviction for health and safety reasons. The judgment gives effect to South Africa’s constitutional commitment to housing rights. It also affirms the obligation on local authorities, in all evictions, to seek reasonable ways to avoid homelessness by engaging meaningfully with the affected communities. Central to this case are the provisions of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act 103 of 1977 (NBRA), which empower local authority official to issue a notice to occupiers to vacate premises when they deem it necessary for the safety of any person (section 12(4)(b)). Failure to comply with such a notice constitutes a criminal offence for which the offender can be fined up to R100 for each day of noncompliance (section 12(6)).