Cape Town unit steadily dealing with city's 'problem buildings'

(City of Cape Town)
(City of Cape Town)

Cape Town – Problem buildings in Cape Town presented a "special kind of hell" for the city, a City of Cape Town official said on Wednesday.

The City's problem building unit, however, has managed to remove 421 properties from its list after owners complied with notices, said safety and security mayoral committee member JP Smith.

These properties, removed in the last financial year, accounted for 15% of the City's problem building unit caseload.

Smith said the City had spent around R158 000 in the last year on securing and cleaning properties, as well as erecting problem building sign boards.

A by-law allowed the unit to do work on the building, at the cost of the owner, should they fail to comply with instructions to do so themselves.

The unit was finalising plans for its first demolition of a private property in Somerset West. It had been on the problem building list for a few years.

Smith said they could hopefully use the experience to expedite future cases.

2 400 cases being investigated

"They [the properties] drag down the overall tone of a neighbourhood and are very often associated with all manner of social ills, which no one wants in their backyard."

Getting owners to do "the right thing" was time consuming and frustrating, said Smith, but the City had to operate within the law.

(City of Cape Town)

The unit was investigating nearly 2 400 cases, most of which were residential properties. The biggest challenges were being unable to track down owners, and dealing with deceased estates.

Smith said there was an increase in individuals subletting properties to a few families and keeping the rent, without the owner's consent or knowledge.

Almost 50 property owners were being charged a tariff, which increased the longer a property remained on the problem list.

They were charged R5 000 a month, for up to six months. The tariff increased to R10 000 if the property remained on the list for a year. Properties on the list for 18-24 months incurred a R25 000 monthly tariff.

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