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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

Communicare tenants approach HRC over rental hikes

29 April 2019

Communicare tenants have taken their complaints of disproportionately high rental increases and utility services to the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).
“The Cape Town municipality does not allow Communicare tenants to buy electricity, water and other municipal services directly. Tenants are forced to buy these services through profit-making subsidiaries of the supposed charity called Communicare,” Neville Petersen of the Foundation for Community Development (FCD) said.

He said the residents believe that the rental increases are a violation of their human rights.
“We invited the Human Rights Commission to tell them our story and to find out whether this is wrong. And we highlighted the human rights issue especially because we have pensioners who are affected,” he said.
In July last year, tenants from Communicare handed over 300 forms to the Rental Tribunal, objecting to the 9%-15% rent increases that were forced on them.

Fed-up community members from Dunoon, Ruyterwacht, and Kraaifontein took to the streets of Cape Town to vent their anger and hand over a memorandum to the Western Cape Provincial Legislature.
They also handed over a memorandum to Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela.

Among their demands are that lease agreements be scrapped and the housing units be transferred to the tenants, rent increases be scrapped, water and sewage charges be itemised, and all arrears payments be scrapped.
Western Cape Human Settlements spokesperson Muneera Allie said: “The department’s rental housing tribunal staff have had several meetings with the tenants to categorise complaints and lay the foundation for mediation. The role of the tribunal is to mediate regarding disputes between landlords and tenants.

“The department has commenced mediation engagements with the tenant and the management of Communicare,” Allie said.
Chief executive of Communicare Anthea Houston said: “Nobody’s human or legal rights have been infringed. We have increased rent in line with tenants contracts and the law. I appreciate our tenants may be feeling the pinch in these tough times but everybody who rents accommodation knows that annual increases are normal.”

Houston said that she was sympathetic to the plight of the elderly who could not afford the rent.
“We will take this into consideration when deciding on the increases for the year ahead. We have already agreed on substantial rental concessions for the tenants dependent on the Sassa (SA Social Security Agency) grants. This is reflecting in their statements issued last week,” she said.

Source: Cape Argus

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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