City warns flat owners

2018-05-24 06:01
Council is clamping down on structures that have been erected without the necessary permission. PHOTO: velani ludidi

Council is clamping down on structures that have been erected without the necessary permission. PHOTO: velani ludidi

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Given the demand for housing across Cape Town, “entrepreneurs” are increasingly taking advantage of the opportunity to convert buildings into rental units.

This is done by either extending their properties into the road reserve or into adjacent properties, or by building additional storeys.

The building of flats has become a lucrative business for many local homeowners, but the City of Cape Town is clamping down on all those who have built flats without permission from authorities.

The City is mandated to take action against those property owners whose properties do not comply with the Municipal Planning By-law, irrespective of where such a property is located.

Homeowners contravening the by-law could face hefty fines or imprisonment.

“Those wanting to extend or renovate their properties should submit building plans to the City prior to doing so,” explained Priya Reddy, spokesperson for the City.

“Depending on the legislation used to establish the township, building plans for dwelling houses may not be required and the owner should, therefore, consult with the City planners.”

However, the use of the property must also comply with the land use or zoning of the property, she added.

“Therefore, the onus remains on the owner to ensure that the building is compliant,” said Reddy.

Bongani Matyobeni, a flat owner from Greenfields, Lwandle, said this is news to him. He has owned the flats for close to 10 years. “This is the first time I am hearing of this,” he said. “Why did they not come to us when we were starting to build these flats many years ago? This municipality likes to see people suffer. There are no jobs available and these flats bring money for us.”

The by-law came into effect on 1 July 2015.

When asked about those who built their flats before 2015, Reddy said: “Should the City become aware of a non-compliant building, the City’s Development Management Department will take legal steps to ensure the safety of non-compliant structures by issuing notices to the owners informing them of the violations of the bylaw, and how to rectify the situation to ensure that the building does not pose a safety risk.”

In general, in the greater Lwandle and Nomzamo area, small rooms are rented out for between R1 800 and R2 000 per month. Some people own more than 10 flats.

The City has already issued more than 100 fines in the DuNoon area.

A wall of one house in DuNoon, which was undergoing upgrades, collapsed last year and a child was buried under the rubble. Neighbours used their hands to dig through the rubble and pull the child, who survived the incident, out.

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