Problems next door

2017-04-25 08:54
The property at 37 5th Road in Heathfield is a cause of concern for residents.

The property at 37 5th Road in Heathfield is a cause of concern for residents.

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A problem house in Heathfield has residents up in arms.

The house at 37 5th Road was declared a problem building over two years ago but the residents say officials of the City of Cape Town are dragging their feet.

Concerned residents have been trying to get the house demolished or something done about it for the last 15 years – with no luck. It is alleged the house is occupied by about seven people, including children, and that it brings unsavoury characters to the area.

The owner of the house is deceased and there was no will. The outstanding rates payments amount to R561 832.

Ward councillor Kevin Southgate says there has been complaints about drug abuse, illegal occupation, prostitution, unhealthy and unhygienic conditions, lack of toilet facilities, no services on the property, people burning wires and causing unhealthy fumes, open fires on the property, and illegal structures.

“The City is trying to resolve the matter, but it is complex because the owner died intestate and no-one is prepared to take responsibility for the property. The City’s environmental health department and Law Enforcement respond to all complaints received, but admittedly the situation is untenable for the neighbours and I would like to reassure them that the City is doing all it can to resolve the matter, within the ambit of the law.

“As a result of complaints and assistance from the community, we were able to have the children on the property removed by the provincial social services department,” he says.

Richard Talliaard, who lives right next to the house, says it is a mess and it’s unpleasant.

“The smell is too bad. My son even killed a rat in his bedroom; this just shows the amount of dirt we are living with.

“I can’t even begin to grasp why it has taken the City so long to get this problem sorted. Everyone is sick here and we all know it is because of the dirt that comes from that house,” he says.

Talliaard adds that noise from the house is disturbing and comes at odd hours, interrupting his sleep.

“The house attracts a lot of people that you don’t even wish for in the area.”

Glorya van Niekerk of the Princess Vlei Civic Association says residents have tried all they can but nothing is being done.

“The residents are saying they will take the law into their own hands and demolish the property completely. Neighbours are fuming because the place is so unhygienic. If it was in an affluent area the house would have been demolished a long time ago.”

JP Smith, Mayco member for safety, security, and social services, says the officials are doing everything by the book.

“The outstanding rates and taxes are being dealt with in terms of the City’s credit control and debt collection policy. The building was declared a problem building and signage was erected, but the signage was subsequently removed – one assumes by the illegal occupants of the property.

“The City is currently lobbying for the appointment of an executor for the deceased estate, but there is no indication of how long this could take.

In terms of demolition, this too would require a court order.

“To date, the City has demolished one problem building, at exorbitant cost to ratepayers, but it was a lengthy process which required the permission of the property owner. As this property currently has no responsible person, it is difficult to consider this course of action.”

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