Media: Tenants seek help as rent hikes lead to evictions

10 08 2009

August 07, 2009 Edition 1
Fouzia van der Fort – Cape Argus

SEVERAL Woodstock families are seeking legal help after rental increases of up to 100 percent resulted in evictions.

Community leader Tahir Levy said more than 15 families had already left their homes after receiving letters from their landlords because they could not afford the increases.

Some families had been forced to move to the Blikkies Dorp informal settlement in Delft.

Resident Mogamad Salie Smith, 56, has lung cancer, asthma and spinal arthritis. He depends on his disability grant, combined with that of his wife Naseda, also 56, which totals R2 230.

The couple learnt recently that they would be evicted from their Addison Road home in Salt River where they have lived for 25 years.

An application in terms of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from Unlawful Occupation of land is pending in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on August 25.

Naseda Smith gets her grant because she has only one kidney and suffers from high blood pressure, diabetes, a heart condition and arthritis.

They pay R1 500 a month to landlord Yusuf Ebrahim Patel, who now wants R3 000 a month.

They negotiated, but the lowest Patel will go is R2 000.

Mogamad Smith said that after paying electricity, rent and bills, he could afford only R500 extra a month.

“We can’t afford a lawyer. What must we eat? We need to dress warmly because this house is so cold.”

Smith also said he had paid to fix a leaking roof and cracked walls, and had put in new windows.

“The cold in this house is terrible. There is no ceiling in the bathroom. The landlord has never set foot in this house yet,” he said.

Patel declined to comment, saying the court case had not yet been finalised.

Five other families in St James Street in Woodstock have had their R1 450 rent increased to R3 000.

Earlier this year the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court ordered them to move.

Their lawyer, Zehir Omar, has appealed against the decision.

Omar said they were waiting for a Johannesburg High Court ruling specifying that courts could grant evictions only if suitable alternative accommodation was available.

Zalisile Mbali, spokesman for Housing MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela, said there had been a drastic increase in the number of complaints about rent increases.

The standard annual increase, he said, was set at 10 percent, which could be altered in separate lease agreements.




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