Eviction notices served

2015-05-05 06:00

Several Manenberg residents could find themselves out on the street soon following a dispute over changes to rental stock.

In the past three weeks, a series of public meetings were held after several residents were issued with eviction and compliance notices by the City of Cape Town.

This caused a furore as residents feel they are being treated unfairly, but the municipality says properties were either illegally occupied or altered.

The Manenberg Community Safety Forum claims there are hundreds more Manenberg residents who have been issued with eviction letters.

According to Roegchanda Pascoe, forum coordinator, many more residents came forward at no less than two urgent public meetings that were held recently to ward off these evictions.

Pascoe further claims residents have come forward with City eviction notices issued to residents for, amongst others, illegal renovations and structures; non-payment of rental bills; illegal occupation after residents moved into vacant, abandoned and derelict homes; and backyard dwellers who have moved into homes after the main tenants have died.

According to Benedicta van Minnen, City Mayco member for Human Settlements, there are currently nine different cases being dealt with by its Manenberg Housing office.

She says six of these cases involve the unlawful occupation of rental stock, for which eviction notices have been served on the illegal occupiers, while two more were served as a result of the contravention of their lease agreements regarding extensions. Another was issued due to anti-social behaviour.

She says, although an eviction order was recently granted by the court, it will only be carried out once the sheriff of the court has set a date to do it.

One such resident, Rabia Solomons of a City flat in Manenberg, has been issued with three letters to demolish renovations to her dwelling. Solomons, who has been living in a council dwelling in Renoster Walk together with her family for more than 30 years, has been issued a final notice to vacate the property by today (31 March).

Her daughter, Faranaahs, says they were issued with two notices last year, but the third and final notice is dated in February of this year.

She explains her grandmother extended the dwelling to the back about 20 years ago and “the council was fine with it”.

“But now that my mother has decided to use her retirement money to make the house safe and secure for her children, the council evicts her.”

Faranaahs says the trouble started when her mother had a roof put over the existing vibracrete walls, as well as two gates in front of the double-storey flat.

Van Minnen says all tenants in City rental stock in all areas sign lease agreements when moving in, thus rules and policies apply to all areas, and not only in the case of Manenberg.

She says the City cannot allow “any structures that compromise the structural integrity of City buildings”.

“The City does not take action on illegal renovations depending on the nature of the structure, but it is done in accordance with the City’s lease agreement, whereby permission should be sought before erecting any structures, including investigations by the City and the City’s decision to allow it, or not, or condone it after the fact,” says Van Minnen.

Pertaining to the specific case of the Solomons family, Van Minnen says the tenant has extended extensively to the back some time ago and could be “considered for condonation if the structure is found to be sound and not compromising the block of flats in any way”.

However, the extension in front of the rental stock flat of the Solomons’ is in contravention of the lease agreement and policy.

For this reason, she says, there are already two families currently in “legal domain” for failing to comply with their leased agreements.

“The ball is in the court of the tenant (Solomons) to comply with the lease agreement by 31 March (today) to rectify the situation. Should she not, the matter will be referred to the attorney for an eviction application, but the City cannot pre-empt the outcome,” says Van Minnen.

“We are not [drug] merchants. When they came to evict a family they sent 30 vans. But when the gangsters shoot, all we get are three police vans for the whole of Manenberg,” says Pascoe.

She says the forum will be seeking urgent legal recourse on behalf of those tenants who have been issued with eviction notices and have come forward

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