The City of Cape Town has started renovations on a historic cottage in the Bo-Kaap which will enable the elderly tenant to take ownership of the property, as the law requires. The City hopes that this could lead the way for the resolution of similar cases which the City has been investigating. Read more below:
The property, one of some 20-odd similar properties in the area, was expropriated by the then Council under the Slums Act of 1934. The owners were ‘permitted’ to stay and were charged a very minimal rental in exchange for losing ownership of their homes.
An agreement was reached with the National Monuments Council (NMC) at the time that ‘tenants’ could buy back their homes at a minimal selling price on condition that tenants restored the properties to standards stipulated by the NMC.Most tenants are, however, elderly people who do not have the financial or other means to bring the buildings into compliance. This has meant that they have been, again, denied ownership.
The City therefore started a process of investigating how the conditions above could be waived as this would enable the tenants to become the owners of the properties. The City has also been investigating funding sources for the project within the required heritage and legal prescripts.
‘The matter was all the more urgent as, despite our offers of alternative accommodation, our Bo-Kaap tenant refused to move. Hence, we were in constant contact with the relevant stakeholders to see how we could resolve this situation.
‘The Human Settlements Directorate appointed a structural engineer and, after the assessment, our contractor started with work on the structural repairs on Wednesday 4 May 2016. The electricity installation will also be undertaken.
‘A recent site inspection was done by the local Ward Councillor, Dave Bryant, the City’s heritage management officials, the tenant, as well as a private contractor who has availed his services for any non-structural work to be done in accordance with all applicable legislation. I thank Councillor Bryant for the great role that he has played in ensuring that we have kept the momentum going,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements, Councillor Benedicta van Minnen.
The City is embarking on an assessment of the remedial work that would be required for the similar heritage-protected properties in this area.
The City is also looking at the ownership model of these properties. As these properties are occupied by elderly residents, the City is investigating how to partially protect these residents from property speculators and other opportunists, especially considering how financially valuable real estate in the central Cape Town area is.