Tenants make peace with move

The relocation of Welverdiend tenants is on track with about 70% of tenants agreeing to relocate and 12 already resettled, according to social-housing non-profit company Communicare.

Emotions ran high in October when tenants heard of Communicare’s plans to demolish the Rondebosch block of flats, effectively forcing them to relocate to other facilities (“Tenants forced to rehome,” Tatler, October 17).

At the time, Communicare chief executive officer Anthea Houston said they had no choice but to demolish the 68-year-old building due to its age and significant structural problems that could no longer be repaired.

She said there were problems with plumbing as well as damp coming through the bricks; there was no hot water in the kitchens, only in the bathrooms; windows were rusted and none of the units had showers, only 200-litre baths.

Ms Houston said they were concerned that the building posed a long-term health and safety risk.

Ms Houston said they had started engaging with tenants about the need to redevelop the Welverdiend complex early in October so they could, in good time, help any vulnerable tenants with relocation.

“The process is ongoing and with our staff taking vulnerable tenants to view other available units and also arranging for assistance for those who need help with packing and transport for moving. We have offered the tenants accommodation in our other vacant units and all vulnerable tenants will not be expected to pay anything more than their current rent. Just under 70% have indicated that they will move and have selected their preference of where they will move to. Twelve tenants have already moved and more moves have been planned,” she said.

But Karabo Makgoane, chairwoman of the tenants’ committee, which was formed in October, said they were still waiting for Communicare to give them a report showing why the demolition was needed.

“As tenants, we organised ourselves, and I was elected as the chairwoman. We tried to engage Communicare to obtain a copy of the building report as we had doubts as to whether Communicare was truthful. We, as tenants, have a right to see and question the report. We are yet to have a meeting with Ms Houston or any board members who can give us actual answers,” she said.

Ms Makgoane also questioned why Communicare had spent money installing water meters earlier this year, if only to have the building demolished later. She said Communicare had also started to strip some of the vacant flats.

“It does not make sense to me, for them to spend all that money to install the meters only for it to be wasted,” she said.

Ms Houston said they had since documented the structural problems as well as issues with the plumbing system and would share that information with tenants. As for the stripping of the flats, Ms Houston said in their experience units were vandalised or illegally occupied if they stood vacant for months.

“Since the building will be redeveloped, each unit is being stripped and secured as it becomes vacant,” she said.

Sandra Fourie – who had lived at Welverdiend for 10 years – was initially against the relocation, but she has since changed her tune and has already moved into her new home at Dreyersdal in Bergvliet.

“I have been in my new place for two weeks, and I am very happy with my new accommodation,” she said.

Ms Fourie said she had decided not to fight the issue and was pleased with the outcome.

Ms Houston said Communicare had identified alternative accommodation, including Creswell House in Newlands, Musgrave Park in Diep River, and Mez Wallach in Lakeside.

“We will continue to consult tenants who have not yet selected other accommodation and provide suitable alternatives as our priority to ensure that the redevelopment leaves no tenant homeless,” she said.