House in sorry state

Close to three years after being declared a problem building by the City’s Problem Building Unit, 44 Spencer Street in Goodwood still stands as a “safety hazard” to properties surrounding it.

Due to her sheer frustration, Lorinda Brown, who lives in Merriman Street, compiled a petition last month comprising signatures of residents living close to the property.

“The house has been vandalised after a fire ripped through it five years ago. The garage situated at the back of the property was set alight twice this year; the first time being at the beginning of the year and the second time on Saturday June 24, at 23.45pm. I have complained about this property to the previous ward councillor and the current one. We have CCTV footage of an individual entering the property and setting it alight. My husband helped to douse the fire as we were afraid it would spread to our property,” she said.

usband went to Goodwood police station to lay a complaint.

However, Goodwood police spokesman Waynne Theunis said on Friday July 14, that no crime or other complaints about the property had been reported to the station for the past three months.

Ms Brown said the garage wall, which is her boundary wall, was a safety risk to her family and pets.

“The wall can collapse at any time due to the fire damage and the owner of the property refuses to take responsibility.”

Ms Brown said the derelict house had adversely affected the value of surrounding properties due to its neglect and vandalism.

“No action has been taken against the owner and the activities on the property are being overlooked.”

Ms Brown, along with about 20 people who signed her petition, believe the property should be demolished because the damage done to it over the past several years had left it beyond repair.

“Having the property in our neighbourhood increases the chances of our properties being broken into; leaves us open to fire damage and endangers the lives of our families, children and pets,” she said.

Ms Brown, who has lived in the area for the past 13 years, believes the owner would never “own up or take responsibility” if surrounding properties were damaged.

The Northern News visited the the property on Thursday July 13.

A cursory look revealed severe fire damage to the main house and garage at the back of the property. The lawn was overgrown and the property was not properly secured, making it easy to access.

Metres of red tape stretched across the back of the property; a remnant of the last fire.

Ms Brown said a number of people had lived on the property over the last five years.

“Drug peddling and prostitution have been rife at the property. People with horse carts have also come onto the property in search of items to sell,” she said.

She and surrounding residents had also had to contend with an infestation of mice as result of the state of the “problem building”.

Ms Brown was left heartbroken two years ago when a Boerboel owned by people who were staying on the property attacked her Border Collie named Levi.

“I took him to the vet but he died as a result of his injuries on the operating table,” she said.

Siyabulela Mamkeli, Mayoral committee member for area central, said the property was declared a problem building in November 2014 after it was brought to the attention of the Problem Building Unit in September 2014.

“All the necessary notices have been issued in terms of the Problem Building By-law and the property is still in contravention of the Problem Building By-law,” he said.

The Northern News took numerous steps to get hold of the owner, Michael Lazarus.

A cellphone number was given to the Northern News by a source but it was no longer in use. There was no listing for M Lazarus in the phone directory.

A search through the Green Gazette revealed that legal notices had been served on a Max Michael Lazarus in 2011 through Bernadt Vukic Potash and Getz Attorneys.

The Northern News sent an email to the law firm to ascertain if it was the correct Mr Lazarus and whether he was still a client of the firm, in a further attempt to get a response from the owner, but Chris Hessian responded that they could not comment due to client confidentiality.

Ward 27 councillor Cecile van Rensburg confirmed that the house was a problem building.

She and the City’s media office were also unable to give the contact details of the owner.