Problem buildings now affecting several wards in the City of Cape Town

A problem building in Fairways, prior to it being closed off with bricks. Pic: supplied

A problem building in Fairways, prior to it being closed off with bricks. Pic: supplied

Published Jun 19, 2024


Cape Town - Problem buildings continue to affect numerous wards in the City of Cape Town, posing a great challenge to residents and the municipality.

In the 2022/23 financial year, the City’s Problem Buildings Unit (PBU) had an average caseload of 236, tariffed 334 properties, closed 293 cases, and declared 48 properties as problem buildings.

During the 2021/22 financial year, PBU had an average caseload of 438, with 336 properties tariffed, 77 cases closed, and 21 properties declared problem buildings.

Ward 57 councillor Yusuf Mohamed said the vast majority of problem buildings were vacant.

Ward 57 covers a small portion of Rosebank, the entirety of Mowbray, Observatory, majority of Salt River, Woodstock above Victoria Road West until Mountain Road, and the entirety of University Estate and Walmer Estate.

“Problem buildings are a challenge throughout the city and including my ward.

“No particular part of the ward stands out with an overwhelming amount of problem buildings as each part has a few,” Mohamed said.

“The challenge around these properties is the prolific drug usage that occurs. This is due to the properties largely seeming as abandoned by their owners or in some cases, parts of deceased estates.”

Problem buildings in the ward, all of which were privately owned, have been reported to the PBU for further action, Mohamed added.

The PBU enforces the Problem Property By-law 2020 to identify, react to complaints and manage dilapidated and potential problem buildings.

Generally, a compliance notice is issued first and if the owner does not respond to this, the City said further action is then taken.

This may include declaring a problem building, instituting a tariff charged to the owner’s municipal account or initiating legal action.

The City’s law enforcement officers may only implement the by-law once an official complaint has been lodged against the owner.

Law Enforcement spokesperson Wayne Dyason said problem buildings are predominantly occupied either legally or illegally.

Ward 63 councillor Carmen Siebritz said problem buildings were a huge issue in the ward, particularly in Wynberg and Plumstead.

She said Fairways had one building listed with the Problem Building Unit.

The ward covers Fairways, Royal Golf Links, Plumstead (below Main Rd), and Wynberg East.

“There’s a mixed batch, some are deceased estates and vacant, some are occupied by illegal foreigners,” Siebritz said. “The biggest issue faced with these buildings is that they are deceased estates whereby the owners deceased intestate, private property leased to foreign nationals and as previously mentioned, state-owned and neglected, in this case, Prasa.

“The challenges with these properties are that they are more often than not used for illegal activity such as the purchase and sale of illegal substances, illegal electricity connections, illegal water connections, etc. In some instances, there are alleged gang members illegally occupying these properties,” Siebritz said.

In Lansdowne, Nerissa Neighbourhood Watch vice-chairperson, Celeste Olivia Maclons, said they were aware of three problem buildings.

“Activities at these properties range from being used by the homeless for shelter, drugging, prostitution and as toilet facilities.”

Problem Building Complaints can be reported to the City’s 24-hour emergency control room at 021 480 7700 or 107 from a landline.

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Cape Argus