Slow rental sales process upsets pensioner

Kewtown resident Amelia Lakay, 79, feared that she might die before taking ownership of her City-owned house, as the process of transferring the property onto her name has taken almost three years already.

Ironically, Ms Lakay is a former community worker who dedicated years of her life to secure housing for residents in Kewtown and the issues surrounding it.

She was a long-standing member of the Kewtown Civic Association, and worked tirelessly with the founding members for the building of Build a Better Society (Babs) – a non-profit organisation based in Kewtown.

“We did fundraisers, petitioned the City for the land and we got corporates to invest in Babs. We started out at the Early Learning Centre. I’ve been an activist for many years. We had many fundraisers, soup kitchens, and every year I used to give the seniors a luncheon. I had a lot of excess energy, although I have eight children. I had to channel that energy to motivate others,” Ms Lakay said.

She moved into her current home 14 years ago, but has been a tenant of the City of Cape Town for 56 years.

Ms Lakay lived in Bridgetown for five years, and lived in one of the Kewtown flats for 37 years, before moving to the house she and her family lives in now. The property used to be part of a military barracks.

Since her health has taken a knock, she feared that she would miss out on the opportunity of becoming a homeowner, and called on the Athlone News for help.

“I want to leave a legacy for my family, but the snail’s pace of the transfer, makes me fear that it might never happen. I’m concerned about my health. I used to deal with many housing issues over the years – now I find myself in this situation.”

Siyabulela Mamkeli, mayoral committee member for Area Central, said because of legislative and policy requirements, the City’s rental sales process is “by nature a protracted process”.

Mr Mamkeli added: “The sale of the property to Ms Lakay was unfortunately further delayed due to additional administrative processes which had to be followed given the passing of her husband prior to the conclusion of the sale. The property forms part of an unregistered subdivision. The matter has since been resolved and the conveyancing attorney advised that the transfer has been lodged at the Deeds Office. Registration is expected to take place later this month.”

When asked for the processes involved, once a City tenant qualifies for the ownership of that property, Mr Mamkeli said: “The legal qualifying tenant is required to complete an application form at the nearest housing office and provide various supporting documents in order for officials to conduct various eligibility checks and to ensure compliance with the process.

“An agreement of sale is signed after the tenant has made the necessary payment in respect of transfer, administrative and insurance costs, after which the City makes a subsidy application to the Western Cape Government for approval. After the sale is concluded, the City appoints a conveyancer to attend to the registration of transfer on its behalf.

“The transfer process can take six to 12 months – or longer – depending on various land issues, such as unopened township registers, unregistered subdivisions, and missing title deeds. These are generally beyond the control of the City as the seller.

“Tenants who are eligible for home ownership may qualify for various discounts and write-offs depending on their income group. For example, legal tenants with a monthly income of less than
R3 500 may qualify for a maximum subsidy of R160 573.

“This may be used to cover the purchase price of the property, any outstanding rental and services arrears and includes
R1 000 towards costs. The City further makes a contribution towards rental arrears and services charges not covered by the subsidy and R500 towards transfer costs. Tenants are, however, required to pay administrative and insurance fees until the property is registered.”