Western Cape Human Settlements’ Rental Debacle Clarified
Recent allegations that the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements is forcibly removing 144 families from Sanddrift East are grossly incorrect and the Department denies such allegations in the strongest terms.
The further allegations that the Department evicted a mother and her children due to her refusal to sign an amended lease are also incorrect. The Department only proceeds with eviction of illegal occupants to its rental properties. These are individuals who are not leaseholders with the Department.
Sanddrift East is part of a pool of rental properties owned by the Department. Units that have always been allocated as rental-only include the following:
- De Waal Drive Rental Flats, Zonneblom Cape Town
- Mandarin Court Rental Flats, Gardens
- Naruna Estate Rental Flats, Plumstead
- Rugby Rental Flats, Milnerton
- La Colline Rental Flats, Stellenbosch
- Paarl Rental Flats, Paarl
- Worcester Rental Flats, Worcester.
The Department’s rental housing stock is specifically aimed at people who do not qualify for a free subsidy house or a bond and thus cannot afford to buy a house. To qualify for the Department’s rental housing, an applicant needs to meet the following criteria:
- Must be a South African citizen with a valid ID
- Must have a household income of R3 500 to R15 000 per month.
- Must be married or have dependants;
- Must not be an owner of immovable property or benefited previously from a state housing subsidy.
During 2015, and following an extensive process of community meetings , focus groups and media engagements, tenants were informed that the Department will introduce an upgraded management system of its rental stock that will include amended leases to all leaseholders, an improvement in the maintenance of units, and a firmer enforcement of the terms and conditions of the lease agreement. This was due to:
- Current leases being outdated and not compliant with the Rental Housing Act;
- The terms and conditions of current leases were not enforced by the Department or adhered to by leaseholders;
- An effective maintenance programme could not be followed due to low rental collections or leaseholders’ failure to make regular payments.
The amended rental leases will allow the Department to better manage and enforce the terms and conditions in order to address, for example, nuisance factors, problem elements and breach of contract. In addition, it will allow the Department to implement a comprehensive maintenance plan ensuring that all rental properties receive proper upliftment in appearance and retain their value. It is important to note that the Department has not made any changes to the policy regarding the rental payable by tenants.
The Department is currently in the process of amending lease contracts as follows:
- A three-year renewable lease contract is provided to all tenants who have a source of income;
- A six-months’ lease contract is provided to tenants that are unemployed and do not have any source of income.
Tenants with income of up to R3 500 and/or no income qualify for subsided housing through the Department’s Breaking New Ground (BNG) programme. These are free houses allocated to applicants who meet the qualifying criteria. Through this programme, individuals who struggle to pay rent are offered the opportunity of home ownership. Existing tenants with no income and who earn up to R3 500 were informed that BNG units are available in Pelican Park.
Rental properties owned by the Department should not be regarded as family units but as rental units open to everyone who qualifies for the allocation of a unit. The transferring of tenancy to family members has had a severe negative impact, disadvantaging applicants on the waiting list for rental housing. The Department therefore resolved to not transfer tenancy to family members or dependants as of 1 April 2016.
With a housing backlog of over 500 000, “it is just impossible for the Department to provide everyone with a house”. These are words of the Western Cape Human Settlements Minister Bonginkosi Madikizela at the launch of the Belhar Rental Estate on Friday 13, May 2016. Rental housing is one of a variety of subsidies and programmes of the Department aimed at delivery housing opportunities to the people of the Western Cape.
Spokesperson for the Minister of Human Settlements, Bonginkosi Madikizela
Cell: 078 600 7729
Tel: 021 483 4798
Director: Communications and Stakeholder Relations
Cell: 083 263 1720
Tel: 021 483 2868