Tenants refuse to have upgrades done

2015-05-19 06:00

Residents in Grasryk Court, Ottery are upset by the delay in upgrades to their flats due to three tenants refusing to move from their homes so that upgrades may go ahead.

The three tenants out of 16 units in the flat say they refuse to move from their flat due to gang violence in the temporary village where they should move to and because they made modifications to their own flats out of their own pockets.

One resident who is upset by the delay, Naomi Wallace, says it is unfair that other residents who cannot afford to make repairs to their flats now have to suffer due to three tenants “not wanting to move”.

“We already moved into the temporary village a week ago and work was supposed to commence shortly after. However, the contractors cannot go ahead due to tenants still living in their houses and they cannot deem the site a construction site,” Wallace says.

She adds the remaining 13 families are frustrated about the delay that could ensue if the tenants still refuse to move.

“We are 13 families that cannot afford to do any upgrades to our homes. The upgrades the council is doing is much needed but these families are now hampering our chance at better facilities due their selfishness,” Wallace continues.

She adds she approached ward councillor Melanie Arendse for assistance in this regard.

“I also went to see the family with Arendse. According to them the City could not evict them because there was no agreement with the housing office in instances like this. One of the families actually told us we mustn’t make the City’s problem their problem,” Wallace says.

Mayoral committee member for human settlements Benedicta van Minnen says the City is aware of the situation at the Ottery B council flats.

“Staff from the Ottery housing office are currently meeting with the tenants who are refusing to move out of their units in an attempt to resolve the matter.

“In order for the upgrade project to go ahead, the City has visited tenants to remind them that they have an agreement of lease with the City and that the City has a right to effect repairs or upgrades to the premises if so required,” Van Minnen says.

She adds the delay has already resulted in financial implications.

“The reluctance of these tenants to move has delayed the project, causing financial implications. The tenants from Grasryk were informed in terms of the Community Residential Units (CRU) communication protocol that they would have to commence vacating their units on Wednesday 13 May for the refurbishment of their units to commence,” she adds.

Van Minnen says the three tenants are refusing to move on grounds of security at the Temporary Relocation Area (TRA).

“They are citing the lack of security in the TRA as their main reason. It must be noted that the TRA has been in use for more than four years with no incidents of harm to any of the TRA occupants due to gang violence. Due to the high standard of improvements done by the objecting tenants to their units, the scope of refurbishment to be done in these units has been reduced, further motivating them not to relocate,” Van Minnen explains.

“There is, however, work to be done in these three units, despite the opinion of the tenants.”

Van Minnen further adds the City cannot allow the tenants to reside in their units while the court is being refurbished around them as this “would be a contravention of the promulgated health and safety regulations applicable to the site”.

“It would not be practically feasible to carry out the refurbishments to be done inside these units with the tenants residing in the units and it would also not be possible to maintain the electrical, water and sewer provision to these units.”

The community facilitator has been communicating and negotiating for some time now with these and other tenants who refused to move to the TRA. Initially there were more families refusing to move. Van Minnen says there are more tenants refusing to move form the homes.

“There is one tenant in Astra Court who refuses to move. Due to those tenants from Grasryk and Astra not being willing to move, the community facilitator negotiated with the next court (Murray Court) to be next in line for their refurbishment. The local ward councillor was extensively involved in the whole process.”

She adds Grasryk and Astra Court residents are now “highly aggrieved by the prospect of them being ‘skipped’ in the refurbishment queue at Ottery B”.

The City is still finalising which court will be refurbished next, but upgrades will still be done at all of the courts, Van Minnen reassures.

Currently there are eight empty TRA housing units, thus the contractor is being delayed

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