City corners slumlords

Posted On Monday, 24 October 2005 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Owners told to comply or face closure of their buildings

Property-Housing-ResidentialThe Joburg Council has been taking landlords of dilapidated and hazardous buildings to court to force them to fix their properties.

Over the past 16 months these cases have resulted in the closure of 25 hazardous and derelict buildings, said Roopa Singh, spokesman for the Joburg Inner City Task Force.

These closures have been carried out as part of the inner city regeneration programme.

“The Inner City Task Force would like to send a strong warning to slumlords and owners who do not abide by the law. Our team will continue to clamp down on buildings which place the lives of the occupants in danger,” she said.

Singh said the council has also made about 30 court applications against property owners whose buildings contravened city by-laws.

Many of the buildings have collapsed sewerage systems, are infested with pests and rodents, have no waste management, no fire-fighting equipment and dilapidated fire escapes.

Urbanisation and a shortage of affordable accommodation has also led to slumlords illegally converting abandoned warehouses and office buildings into accommodation. These constitute the majority of the buildings that have been closed.

The council’s legal actions have also resulted in scores of landlords fixing their properties, said Singh.

“It is not about closing down buildings. It is about fixing them. The Inner City Task Force has reached a stage where building owners and residents have begun approaching us, before we have inspected their premises, for guidance and advice on how to improve the conditions,” she said.

Singh said the council did numerous inspections and issued notices of contraventions before resorting to court action which initially compelled all parties involved — landlords, residents and the council — to engage in discussion to try to reach an agreement.

If no agreement is reached and the building is viewed as unsuitable for humans to live in, the council shuts it down, she said.

Jeppestown, Hillbrow and Berea are some of the areas with many dilapidated buildings which are an eyesore.

Roopa said these buildings created “sinkholes” and that the areas around them often became “no-go zones” and “springboards for crime”.

Jeoff Mendelowitz, manager of the Better Building Programme with the Johannesburg Property Company, said his department had identified about 100 “really bad buildings” whose owners had either abandoned their properties or refused to pay for services.

“We find new owners for these buildings and make them sign an obligation agreement. This ensures that they keep them in good condition.

“Our goal is to get these buildings under good management so there will be happy buildings and happy residents,” he said.


Last modified on Saturday, 17 May 2014 11:55

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