ETHEKWINI NEWS FLASH

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

27 JANUARY 2016

EThekwini Closes Down The City's Worst Derelict Building

EThekwini Municipality warns all unscrupulous landlords that if they continue to contravene health, safety and building bylaw regulations, the City will soon raid and close down their buildings.

This was the strong message given by iTrump Senior Manager Hoosen Moolla during a raid which led to the closing down of one of the City’s worst rundown buildings near Joseph Nduli (Russell Street) today, 27 January 2016.

The building which has broken windows and old, rotting wooden floorboards and an unbearable stench was home to more than 500 people.

During the bad building operation Moolla was accompanied by officials from the City’s Water and Electricity Units as well as officers from the South African Police Service and Metro Police. 

Moolla said the building had been a problem because of its severely dilapidated condition.

“To make matters worse, this bad building was also being used as an illegal accommodation establishment,” he said.

Moolla said the tenants who were cramped in small cubicles partitioned with thin wooden planks were paying rent ranging from R800 to R1200 monthly.

The building which had been served with contravention notices previously had no ventilation system or adequate ablution facilities. The building also posed a fire risk as it had no fire escape routes.

Moolla said the closure of the building served as a warning to other unscrupulous landlords who were contravening City regulations. He said the City’s closure list included over 120 buildings which fell under different contravention categories.

EThekwini Municipality intends to tackle the issue of derelict buildings in the City through the recently gazetted Problem Building By-law.

The By-law aims to provide for the identification, control and rehabilitation of problem buildings in the City. 

There are different admission of guilty fines for different offences in terms of this By-law. 

For example the proposed fine for entering, occupying or permitting the occupancy of any problem building which a notice has been served is R5 000. Hindering an authorised Municipal official from exercising their duty is R1 500.

Meanwhile the proposed fine for failure to comply with a lawful instruction of a Municipal official or in terms of the By-law is R1 500 as is failure to comply with a compliance notice.

The maximum penalty for anyone found guilty of an offence under this By-law is a fine not exceeding R500 000, imprisonment not exceeding three years or both the fine and imprisonment.

These are the proposed fines which still have to be approved by the Chief Magistrate. Once approved, the amounts will be made public.

This By-law will be enforced in combination with other By-laws as a problem building usually contravenes the Fire By-law, the National Building Regulations, Health and other By-laws. 

The City will be able to issue one summons and combine all the offences in terms of the By-laws and National Building Regulations. This will allow for coordinated action by the various Municipal departments including Metro Police to deal with a problem building. It will also allow the full picture to be presented before the court. 

If the matter reaches the High Court, the judge can set a fine up to R500 000. 

Further penalties can be imposed if the building owner fails to comply with a compliance notice. They could incur an additional fine not exceeding R5 000 or imprisonment not exceeding 10 days for each day the offence continues.

The By-law outlines steps to identify and label a building as a problem building. This includes buildings that are derelict in appearance or showing signs of becoming unhealthy, unsanitary or unsightly. The building may also be or appears to have been abandoned by the owner regardless of whether or not rates are being paid. A problem building is also one that is overcrowded, illegally occupied or hijacked. 

The By-law also outlines steps to be taken to rehabilitate the building and ensure compliance by owners. This includes issuing a notice of intention to declare it as a problem building to the owner and specifying what aspects of the building are in contravention of the by-law and poses safety risks to occupants. The notice will outline steps the owner must take to rectify the problem building within a stipulated time. This includes possible repairs, renovations, submitting a building plan and removing any source of danger among others.

Residents will be kept informed throughout the process with notices affixed at the main entrance of the building. Should the owner fail to comply a notice will be placed informing occupants that the building is unsafe and that the Municipality will seek an eviction order if the owner fails to comply with the compliance notice.

A list of possible alternative accommodation and contact details of a Municipal official available to assist the occupiers find alternative accommodation will also be included.

This is a step in the right direction to ensure eThekwini will be Africa’s most caring and liveable City by 2030.

To view the By-law in full visit:http://www.durban.gov.za/Resource_Centre/Pages/By-Laws.aspx.

ENDS 

Issued by eThekwini Municipality’s Communications Head, Tozi Mthethwa.

For more information members of the media can contact Gugu Sisilana on 031 311 4855 or email: gugu.mbonambi@durban.gov.za or Princess Nkabane on 031 311 4818 or princess.nkabane@durban.gov.za

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