File photo: Reuters

Cape Town - The Western Cape provincial government is to take a hard line with tenants who don’t pay their rent for state social housing and will consider getting social housing institutions and companies to help manage its housing units.

The province is also contemplating handing units over to municipalities.

Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela told the legislature on Thursday it was unacceptable that the administration’s rent collection rate was between 30 and 40 percent, whereas social housing institutions were able to collect 90 percent.

“I am not comfortable to spend money (on maintenance) if the collection rate is (almost) non-existent.”

The Western Cape would spend R33m over six years on maintenance. The province owns 785 rental units in Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Paarl and Worcester, but intends selling 246.

Madikizela said the province would look at two possible solutions – a partnership with social housing institutions or companies, or handing rental units over to municipalities.

The province is also working with municipalities to have more social housing homes built.

The areas administered by municipalities include Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, George, Oudtshoorn, Mossel Bay, Paarl, Wellington, Vredenburg, Saldanha, Worcester and Hermanus.

The Department of Human Settlements’ director for affordable housing, Kahmiela August, said there was a need for social housing, especially in towns like Plettenberg Bay, where there was a big demand for cheaper rental units.

“It is essentially about restructuring, looking where the poor live and where in advantaged areas we can build social units to give people better access to work and transport.”

August said only Cape Town and Oudtshoorn had plans to build new social housing units.

The City of Cape Town manages 43 000 units.

Norah Walker, the city’s director for strategic development, said the major challenge was maintenance. The city was refurbishing 7 665 flats and the work would be complete by mid-2015.

“It is very difficult to estimate the cost of these projects because you don’t know what is wrong in the flats,” she said.

The city was building new rental units in Scottsdene, near Kraaifontein, and would start doing so this year in Hangberg, Hout Bay, said Walker. In Hangberg it would cost about R400 000 to build a unit.

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Cape Times