Schubart Park residents moved to Parkview will stay, says judge
Pretoria - The Schubart Park residents who were moved to Parkview Units, among other complexes, a decade ago, may continue living there for now.
The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, turned down an application by the landlord of Parkview Units, Singyung Investments, to have them evicted.
Acting Judge TB Antulay said there were too many disputes regarding the facts between the applicant and the City of Tshwane – which is footing the monthly rental bill – as well as paying for the residents’ water and lights accounts.
The judge frowned upon the fact that the applicant wanted the 373 residents out of the flats. The judge said the application was brought by way of motion proceedings (affidavits before court as well as arguments by the legal representatives).
WhIle the judge leaned over to the side of the City in accepting that there was a tripartite agreement in place between the parties, he said the matter should proceed by way of action proceedings – where oral evidence would presented to the court.
This is in a bid to ascertain the facts.
The applicant turned to court as it claimed that the City was not honouring its end of the bargain by increasing the rent and paying towards the damages allegedly caused by some of the residents who had been vandalising the building.
Singyung Investments asked for an order for the City to relocate the residents and that the applicant, as the landlord, may evict the residents. The judge, however, said such an order was extreme under the circumstances where there was a dispute of fact.
She said if she granted it, it would result in many women and children being displaced.
According to the landlord, the agreement they reached with the City to house the Schubart Park residents had long ago lapsed. The company said it was unable to manage the residents.
It said it had no idea who were legally there as part of the initial Schubart Park group. Others had simply moved in, according to the landlord.
The City, on the other hand, maintained that it had reached a tripartite agreement with the landlord around 2013 when the initial contract ended. According to the City, the contract was never signed, but was nevertheless in place, part in writing and part orally.
Although a copy of the agreement could not be placed before court, the judge said it was not disputed that the City continued to pay rent each month towards the Schubart Park residents. This, she said, should be an indication that there was some sort of agreement in place.
Both parties admitted to have lost track of the identity of the occupants.
“This should indeed cause alarm for taxpayers and this issue should be addressed,” the judge said.
She added that the mechanics of how the landlord and the City managed, and still manage to process rental payments for the Parkview Units, was a further matter that should be ventilated in a trial.
In slapping the landlord with the City’s legal bill for this application, the judge said the City from the start proposed that all these issues had to be ventilated in court via a trial, but the applicant insisted that it wanted to get rid of the residents via motion proceedings (on affidavits and legal argument only).
It emerged from court papers that the City – according to invoices from the landlord – was paying the landlord about R1 700 a month in rent per person staying there. This is despite uncertainty as to how many of the original Schubart Park group was still staying there and whether the City was subsidising unknown people.
The former Schubart Park residents were relocated to, among others, the Parkview Units after the four Schubart park buildings in the CBD became uninhabitable.
The buildings were hijacked by unauthorised people and a fire broke out. As it was too dangerous for them to continue living there, the City negotiated with the Schubart Park Residents Association to temporarily relocate them.
While the Constitutional Court earlier said the parties had to negotiate a resolution for the Schubart Park issue, an ongoing legal row between the City and its contractor has stalled plans to restore the dilapidated buildings.
The landlord’s lawyer, Jonathan Bouwer, could not be reached for comment on their next step.