Policy controls home fixes

2015-05-05 06:00
PQ A new policy proposes the prioritisation of maintenance work for rental units owned by the City of Cape Town. 


PQ A new policy proposes the prioritisation of maintenance work for rental units owned by the City of Cape Town. PHOTO: MONIQUE DUVAL

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Non-payment, limited resources, lack of funding and high levels of theft and vandalism are the main issues ­plaguing City of Cape Town rental units.

The maintenance of these units across Cape Town is often a bone of contention in many communities but a new policy aims to address this by prioritising repair work.

Last week, the City released its draft community residential unit maintenance policy for public comment.

According to the policy there are a range of issues affecting City rental units.

The City maintains 45 000 rental units and 11 000 hostel beds.


Benedicta van Minnen, mayoral committee member for human settlements, says major maintenance and upgrading is required due to the age of rental units.

“Therefore there is generally not much funding left over for both operational (day-to-day) and capital (major upgrading) maintenance work.”

Van Minnen explains the high level of non-payment of rent by tenants also impacts funding. The high incidence of vandalism, theft and abuse of municipal services infrastructure in these units is also a challenge.

She further explains gangsterism, violence and associated illegal activities contribute to a dangerous and stressful working environment for personnel. Mental and physical health deterioration among staff is also a challenge faced by the department.


Responding to questions about staff allocations and the inspection of rental units, Van Minnen explains the public housing maintenance staff cannot conduct door-to-door surveys, but do high-level block assessments once a year when the budget request is compiled.

“The City relies on residents to report any issues so that they can be addressed, especially in terms of health and safety matters. The City also uses expanded public works programme workers to assist where possible.”

She says non-payment by tenants directly influences the budgets and maintenance work that can be performed and affects the sustainability of the rental units.

“In terms of the policy, defaulting tenants or occupants will not be assisted with maintenance apart from matters relating to health and safety.”

She says there are various levels of ­defaulting tenants but the municipality ­often requests they make arrangements if they cannot pay.

“In general, payment levels vary between 40% to 42% across the city. It is important to note that the collection rate in the already upgraded units went up from 28% to 45%,” she adds.


For the 2014/2015 financial year, the municipality received a once-off lifetime renovation grant from national government which allowed it to upgrade 7000 units at a cost of R1.2bn.

Van Minnen explains those units may not access grant repair funding again and must be maintained by the City in the future.

“Therefore tenants must please pay their rent to enable high levels of maintenance in the future.”

On average, the municipality spends R15m each year on day-to-day maintenance which addresses mainly health and safety concerns. Van Minnen explains this maintenance depends on what is allocated in the annual budget. In the last financial year the department received R10.4m.


The new draft policy categorises and prioritises repairs to ensure that health and safety repairs are attended to first.

Van Minnen explains it also incentivises tenants to pay rent in order for the City to do maintenance.

The policy proposes maintenance work be divided into four categories which range from “very high” priority to “low” priority and according to levels.

For the first two levels, which are considered “very high” or “high” priority, maintenance includes emergency repairs in the event of a disaster, anything which poses a health risk, structural damage to a unit and electrical repairs.

For the two lower levels, namely “medium” and “low” priority, maintenance covers windows, ceilings, internal doors and locks and toilet seat replacements.

The comment period on the new policy closes on Thursday 30 April.


To view the draft policy visit www.capetown.gov.za. It is also available at subcouncil offices and libraries. For more information contact Cassandra Gabriel on 021 400 5212 or hspolicy.research@capetown.gov.za

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