Human Settlements warns residents of online housing scams
The Western Cape Department of Human Settlements strongly urges residents to be aware of online housing scams that request you to pay for government housing assistance. The Department recently learnt of a Facebook account, “RDP House Application 2022/2023”, where fraudsters pose as officials facilitating approvals for houses, keys and title deeds. A Cape Town resident was the most recent victim that discovered she was scammed after arriving at the Department’s office. In anticipating the receipt of a housing opportunity, she paid over R2,000 into a bank account to process her “approval letter” for a house in one of the Department’s projects in Mitchell’s Plain. This particular Facebook account is but one of many online housing scams preying on vulnerable residents. Residents should be aware that no payment is required to be placed on the housing demand database (ie. waiting list), to apply for a housing subsidy, or any related government housing service.
Fraudulent scams have increasingly been reported and appear on different platforms, particularly on social media, requesting citizens to either: pay a deposit or holding fee for a government house; to pay to be approved for a government housing opportunity; or to pay for the processing of an application for example.
“In many instances, vulnerable residents fall prey to these scams in the hope of being assisted, or bumped up on the waiting list, for a government housing opportunity. In most cases, money exchanged due to fraudulent scams is not recovered”, commented Ms Kahmiela August, Acting Head of Department.
“The latest victim, that the Department is aware of, was scammed of over R2,000 by a certain ‘Mr Mashilo’ she met on a Facebook account. ‘Mr Mashilo’ presented himself as a Department of Human Settlements’ official and provided various fraudulent paperwork as proof that the resident will be assisted with a house. Residents should be aware that no government official should ask you to pay any amount of cash for government housing services,” added Ms August.
To be considered for a government housing opportunity, citizens need to be registered on the housing database at their local municipality. To qualify for a government subsidised house, residents need to:
- Be a South African citizen or have a permanent residency permit.
- Be 18 years or older.
- Be married or living with a partner.
- Be single or divorced and have proven financial dependents permanently living with them.
- Earn a household income of R3 500 or less, before deductions.
- Not be current or previous property owners.
- Not have received a housing subsidy from the government before.
The Department also has various subsidies available to assist residents earning between R3,500 and R22,000 gross monthly household income. Enquiries can be made at any municipal housing office.
The Department urges residents to be alert to requests for money involving government housing and know that:
- No exchange of money is needed to get approval for a government subsidised house.
- You do not have to pay to be on the housing database.
Residents are advised to contact the Department, or any municipal housing office, to verify and check a housing social media post or advertisement’s legitimacy. To report any fraudulent scams, residents must contact their nearest SAPS office for assistance.