Tenant wants ownership of council flat

NABEELAH MOHEDEEN

An 82-year-old Bonteheuwel resident feels that after 40 years of paying rent and maintenance his council flat should belong to him by now.

However, the City of Cape Town says they cannot sell the flat in Firethorn Street to Leonard Jantjies, who has been trying for 13 years to have the flat transferred on to his name.

The City had sold 15 blocks of flats in multi-storey buildings, through the sectional title scheme, to tenants between 2002 and 2007 during a pilot project.

However, the project was stopped when it was found that the bodies corporate were unable to manage the properties, as required in terms of the Sectional Title Act. The properties were left in disrepair as no private maintenance funds were available.

Since Mr Jantjies moved into his upstairs flat in 1976, he has replaced the ceiling, tiled his flat, bought putty for the windows, and painted the outside walls, which has cost him over R18 000.

“I would like this place to become my place. I’ve already done the ceiling on my own, the plastering, and the flooring out of my own pocket. The ceiling I did 20 years ago which cost me R3 000, the flooring I did eight years ago and it cost me R10 000. The City is not interested in that,” said Mr Jantjies, who also put up a vibracrete wall on the ground floor, at a cost of R5 000.

In response, Benedicta van Minnen, the City’s mayoral committee member for human settlements, said tenants will not be allowed to take ownership of those properties not identified for sale, regardless of the duration of their lease agreements.

“The City has been engaging with Mr Jantjies and has indicated that unfortunately the flats cannot be sold, therefore, they will remain in the City’s ownership. The national government has placed emphasis on the importance of municipalities retaining their assets,” said Ms Van Minnen.

Mr Jantjies claims that the flats are not properly maintained.

He said a tree had been heavily leaning onto his home and after two visits to the City, they came out and did an inspection but did not solve the problem.

Mr Jantjies was scared that his home would be damaged if the tree was blown further by the wind so he paid R600 for the tree to be trimmed.

“Nobody cares about us. They don’t even paint our flats. The last time they painted it was when they built it 55 years ago. We paint our own flats every four to five years and that’s cost me R800 so far.”

Mr Jantjies said if the flat was transferred on to his name, he would take responsibilty for it.

“My point is if I received my flat from the council, it is my responsibility, it’s got nothing to do with the council. If I am struggling that’s my own problem,” he said.

“I’ve been paying rent for 40 years. What still hinders them from just transferring it into my name? I gave them a plan for the body corporate. We can open a banking account and each one can give a donation of R50 so if any damages occur within these flats, we’ll have money in the account. This flat will never become mine so where does my money go to?”

Ms Van Minnen said Mr Jantjies could request to be transferred to a saleable dwelling, subject to availability and a waiting period.