Maynard Road wrangle continues

Maynard street in Gardens

Anxious Maynard Street residents are locked in a round of one on-one engagements with the City of Cape Town to reach a decision about their homes.

Residents of 11 of the properties have been living in fear of eviction since they were alerted to the City’s intention to sell the homes when an advert appeared in a newspaper in December 2015. One of the houses is vacant.

The talks started last Tuesday, August 14 and come after City officials met with the tenants of the properties in June this year and vowed to prioritise the matter (“City meets with Maynard Street residents”, Atlantic Sun, June 14).

At the meeting in June, Mayoral committee member for assets and facilities management, Stuart Diamond, assured the residents that there would be no evictions.

He told them the officials would engage with the residents and if one can’t afford to buy the property, they would discuss it and find a way forward.

However, the properties have been valued at between R2.6 million and R4 million.

The City of Cape Town’s Transport and Urban Development Authority (TDA) issued valuation letters to the tenants on July 19 and gave them 29 days to make an offer or state whether they wanted to rent.

The tenants sourced inde-
pendent valuation, which placed the houses between R1.5 million and R1.75 million.

They then asked for an extension of the 29-day period because they believed the letters didn’t mention the process agreed upon in June.

Spokesperson for tenants, Jerome Izaaks, emailed Mr Diamond, saying that the letter didn’t state any other alternative options to be explored, such as renting to buy, or new leases being concluded as agreed upon.

He said Mr Diamond made a firm commitment that no tenant would be evicted and they had no intention of going anywhere else.

“The request remains that an official letter is issued stating that the period is extended to what was agreed upon, the 90-day period. We see no reasonable grounds why this cannot be considered given the number of years this process has been delayed by bureaucratic processes. The assessments and the report which need to be tabled would obviously not affect the questionnaire and the individual tenant assessments,” read the email.

Susan Oelofse has been a tenant in Maynard Street for more than 30 years.

She said she was anxious, confused and scared because she does not know where she will go if she has to leave.

“We can’t pay R2.5 million for these houses, the officials know that we don’t have that kind of money,” said Ms Oelofse. She added that they were hoping that the City would offer the houses for R500 000. Ms Oelofse said the one-one-one engagements were promising that there would be a light at the end and she hoped an amicable solution would be reached.

According to Mr Izaaks, a recommendation was put forward to the City suggesting that they use the prescripts of the Prescription Act of 1969, in which a person acquired possession of a property that has been possessed openly as if he was the owner thereof for an uninterrupted period of 30 years. He said no solution or outcome was reached yet and the City would get back to the tenants once the report has been tabled at the next mayoral committee meeting.

“Our understanding is that the mayoral committee will make a final determination and tenants will have the opportunity to make counter offers and or appeals. This is in line with our agreed timelines, which were extended to allow proper consultation between the parties,” he said.

Mr Izaaks said they were confused how thousands of title deeds were being handed over to others, while no consideration is given to people in financial straits like some of the tenants in the properties along Maynard Street.

Mr Diamond said the City was in the process of exploring various purchase options, as mentioned at the initial engagement session. “The City reiterates its willingness to engage with the Maynard Street tenants and is continuing to do so as part of my undertaking. Due to the unique circumstances of each tenant, the City will be engaging on a one-to-one basis with the tenants.”