Derelict house a health and safety hazard

The Vissershok landfill site.

A Vasco resident faced an uphill battle to get the City of Cape Town to take action on a derelict house in Nelson Street, which has become a blight on the neighbourhood.

A vibracrete wall was erected at the problem property at 103 Nelson Street earlier this month, but its long-suffering neighbour Mark Raciet believes it’s only going to make things worse by screening ongoing vandalism and scrap hoarding.

“This, in fact, adds to the problem as they can now conduct their ‘dirty’ business out of the public and law’s eyes,” he said.

The house has been an eyesore in Goodwood since 2012, and Mr Raciet reported the issue on the Premier and Mayor Show on Heart 104.9FM, last year.

According to Mr Raciet, the owner of the house is a hoarder who visits the property often, and when he does “trolley-pushers” sell him scrap, which he stores at the house.

Mr Raciet feels the authorities aren’t doing enough to solve the problem.

“All I can deduce from the response from the mayor’s office is that they have been forgiving towards the owners of the house by constantly giving them the benefit of the doubt and not acting in the interest of the community,” said Mr Raciet.

According to the City’s valuation roll, Integral Effectance Corporation CC is listed as the owner of the property.

Northern News spoke to Christopher Cole, the hubsand of the CC’s registered owner, Jill Cole, who confirmed that the property belonged to them.

He said the house had been hit by a fire a year and a half ago, and they were submitting building plans to rebuild the house.

Mr Cole said two security guards had been staying on the property 24/7 for at least the past five years to keep an eye on it.

Asked about the closed corporation, Mr Cole said it had shut down in 2000, although according to a Companies and Intellectual Property Commission search its status is still listed as “active”.

According to City correspondence, however, the problem building unit inspected the property as recently as Tuesday June 21, and found no one staying there, which casts doubt on Mr Cole’s claims about security guards being posted there.

Mr Raciet said the derelict property, which has been declared a problem building, attracted vagrants and was a health and safety hazard.

“I would like to see the property demolished,” he said.

Neville Hitchcock, the treasurer of the Goodwood Ratepayers’ Association, said they had received numerous complaints about the house, which, he said, had been gutted by fire last year leaving behind an even bigger mess.

Mr Raciet forwarded Northern News an email from Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, the manager for special projects and community engagement in the mayor’s office, which outlined the timeline of events relating to the problem house.

* On May 17 2012, the municipality issued a notice of intention to declare the house a problem building, and the owner was given seven days to put their case, giving reasons why that shouldn’t happen.

* The owner was issued with a compliance notice in September 2012 giving them 21 days to remedy the situation.

* In Feburary 2013, the owner was served with a contravention notice for non-compliance.

* In April 2014, the municipality served a notice of intention to inspect the property. During the inspection it was found that refuse was accumulating on the premises and that the stoep had been converted to a living space. The owner failed to comply with a request to clean the property.

* On July 1, 2014 the property was listed as a problem building, and the owner was fined R5 000.

* In March 2015, the City re-opened the case and all notices served in terms of the Problem Building By-Law were served upon the registered owner of the property.

The owner then erected a vibracrete wall to secure the property two weeks ago.

* On Tuesday June 21, the problem buildings unit conducted another inspection, and no people were on the property. The property remains on the City’s list.

In total the City has levied R13 814.92 onto the owner’s rates account.

Ward 27 councillor Cecile Janse van Rensburg said the house had been a problem since 2012.

“The community in the immediate vicinity and also beyond has the right to live in an area and environment that they can be proud of. The majority of our residents take great care to ensure that we build a safe and prosperous community – it is therefore unacceptable that an owner allows their property to deteriorate to such an extent as in this case,” she said.