Relief for Flamingo Court tenants in water bill battle

2015-09-04 21:08

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Cape Town - Relief was on Friday granted to residents of Flamingo Court in South Durban who have been unable to afford to pay back debt owed to the eThekwini Municipality for unpaid water bills.

In a ruling in the Durban High Court, the local council was ordered to fit separate water meters to each unit in Flamingo Court, the Legal Resources Centre said in a statement.

Th municipality was further ordered to write off the outstanding water arrears in accordance with the municipality’s Debt Relief Policy.

The LRC represents the residents of Flamingo Court, which was built in 1968, and is home to some of Durban’s poorest communities, a spokesperson said. 

"The building was owned by the municipality and offered as low-cost rental accommodation to indigent persons, single parents and low income earners. 

"Between 1998 and 2002, the municipality converted the property into a sectional title scheme.

"However, the municipality did not undertake enough consultation with the residents regarding the levy charges, which many tenants are unable to afford. In addition, supply of water to the units was not individually metered."

The body corporate, the LRC said, failed to collect enough levies to pay the cost of water and the debt owed to the municipality has run into millions.

The body corporate is also unable to fund the cost of building maintenance, the LRC said. 

"The municipality took a decision in 2013 to disconnect the water supply to all units in the building if the arrears were not paid."

The municipality and the Flamingo Court residents on Friday only settled part of the matter, the LRC said.

"The municipality has been directed to write off a portion of the debt and install separate water meters. The court has also asked that oral evidence be presented at a later date on other issues. 

"The municipality’s conduct will be looked at and questioned as to whether they took all necessary steps to rehabilitate and restore Flamingo Court so as to bring it into a sustainable condition, prior to selling and transferring the sectional titles.

"The court will then have to decide whether the municipality’s conduct was valid and lawful in light of our Constitution."

According to the LRC, the court would also hear evidence on whether the municipality failed to adequately consult in relation to the implementation of the sectional title scheme. 

They would now proceed to approach the court to set down a date for oral evidence.

Read more on:    lrc  |  durban  |  local government  |  water

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