Illegal RDP house sales continue

RDP houses in Greenville Garden Cities.

Fisantekraal residents are calling for an urgent meeting with the City of Cape Town to resolve issues relating to the illegal selling and renting of RDP houses and regulations relating to the subsidies for the housing development.

The Greenville Garden Cities project is a joint partnership between residential developer Garden Cities, the City of Cape Town and provincial government. Since its launch in March 2016, 700 of the 868 houses have been handed over and occupied by new owners at Greenville.

Once completed, it will have 17 000 homes, with 12 primary and high schools, an integrated transport hub and community facilities.

The 767 hectare development is for Breaking New Ground (BNG) housing, social housing, gap housing and bonded housing.

Shaun and Talena Karelse have been on the City’s housing waiting list for the past five years. When subsidies for the BNG housing opened they were of the first to apply but their application had been turned down.

When they applied for the latest handover, they were told they did not meet the age requirement of 35 – a clause they were not aware of and which according to them – only applies to certain residents. “We know of beneficiaries who are younger than 35 but received homes. We are a married couple, aged 33 with two children but we keep on being told we don’t qualify for the subsidy,” said Mr Karelse.

The couple have been living in Fisantekraal for the past 10 years and are currently renting an RDP home in Garden Cities from the owner who stays in the Eastern Cape, for R2 500 a month – a home which comes free to beneficiaries. The couple said they wanted out of their wendy house to give their children a better living environment with running water and a toilet. “There are families who really want and need these homes,” he said. How is is that our application is turned down but people living in the Eastern Cape – who have never lived in these homes – own this property,” he said.

Maureen Grootboom, 46, has been on the housing waiting list since 2000. She has been living in Fisantekraal for three years and her attempts to apply for the housing subsidy had also been unsuccessful. Ms Grootboom said she went to the City’s housing department when she came to Fisantekraal, to inform them of her new address.

“When I wanted to fill out a subsidy form, I was told I couldn’t as my name was on the waiting list. I went to the City and asked if I must reapply, I was told to wait, which I’m still doing,” she said.

Ms Grootboom said she had been waiting for a home for 18 years and cannot understand why she had not been able to apply for this housing development. She currently rents a room in a Fisantekraal home.

“There are people who are the age of my children, who received houses. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m tired of moving around and just want a place of my own,” she said.

Lulan Dyobhani’s attempts to apply for a subsidy had also been successful. At first she was told the houses were only for backyarders, later she was turned down because of her age. She has been renting a RDP home for R2 000 a month from a beneficiary in the Eastern Cape for the past two years. She was recently told the owner planned to push the rent up to R4 000 and she would have to be out by the end of the year if she could not come up with the rent.

Northern News previously reported on beneficiaries who were selling their homes, after the issue was raised by Durbanville police station commander, Colonel Mary Cupido, at a public meeting last year (“RDP houses sold illegally”, Northern News, August 10 2017).

At the time, Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, confirmed that some of the beneficiaries were selling the houses in breach of a specific title deed condition prohibiting sale within the first eight years of them moving in.

Mr Herron said that on top of the title deed clause stopping immediate resale of the houses, the City’s housing allocation policy prohibited a beneficiary from renting their home until its transfer had been registered. Those in breach of the policy also stood to forfeit the property, which the City could then allocate to the next applicant on its database.

He visited the housing development on Friday May 4, where more than 80% of the beneficiaries of the first phase of the government-subsided R152 million development had already moved into their new homes. The final 168 BNG houses for this phase will be handed over by October this year.

In a statement, Mr Herron said the project formed part of a greater catalytic housing development which will eventually boast approximately 4 000 BNG housing opportunities, social housing, and financed-linked houses. The BNG houses are planned to be constructed over six phases. Overall, the cost of the 4 000 units will amount to approximately R700 million over six years.

Greenville community leader, Elizabeth Maans, who was one of the first beneficiaries, said they had raised the issue before and were told a representative would come around to check if the owners were indeed living in their homes – this, however, never happened. She said the City was to blame as they were not monitoring the situation and called for an urgent meeting with officials.

“What is going on here is not right and must come to an end. We have families that are struggling in Fisantekraal who desperately need these houses,” she said.

Ms Maans said most of the homes were being bought by foreign nationals, who used it to put up their spaza shops. She said there was a spaza shop in every street in Greenville.

“This is having an effect on the community. On top of the spaza shops we have liquor outlets popping up. This is suppose to be a place where we raise our families,” she said.

Thembi Sithole of Garden Cities said the City was the custodian of the waiting list and they were merely the implementing agents. She said the clause relating to age was taken by the City but said the first phase had been exempted.

“The first phase was exempted from the 35 and above rule as there was a need to clear the informal settlement of which the a majority was younger people, this however, is not the case with the second phase hence the elderly and people longest on the list are given preferences,” she said.

She said it was their duty to ensure that the rightful person gets a house but what happened after that became the City’s responsibility.

The City did not respond to questions regarding recent incidents of beneficiaries selling or renting their homes by the time of going to print.