A derelict Brooklyn house is home to squatters, poses a grave fire risk and is a haven for crime, according to residents and the local neighbourhood watch who have accused the City of failing to act.
The house at 28 Curlew Street was abandoned by its owner last year and has since been stripped of most of its roof, windows and doors (“Brooklyn house a blight on suburb,” Tabletalk February 14).
But the City of Cape Town says the house — a deceased estate — has since been sold and that the new owner will have an opportunity to fix the property before the Problem Building Unit takes any action.
Three months ago, Wayne le Roux, the City’s acting executive director for safety and security, told Tabletalk the house had not been reported as a problem building.
He said a relative of the deceased had been waiting for a Master of the High Court to appoint her as the executor as there was no will.
Deon Haupt lives across the road and said he could not understand how the City could say they had no record of the house being reported as a problem building.
He said he had been hounding the City to do something about the house, which he believes is a crime hotspot.
“No one’s house is safe in the area while that structure still exists and the elements that frequent the property are cause for concern,” said Mr Haupt.
He said he did not know the house had been sold. “If it’s been sold to someone who is going to redevelop the place, then it’s fine. Just as long as it’s not roughnecks taking over,” he said.
The Brooklyn and Ysterplaat Neighbourhood Watch (BYNW)chairwoman Cheryl Visser did not know the house was sold either.
She said she had recently asked the City if she needed to log another complaint about the house but had been told that was not necessary. She said the situation at the house was worsening. The heaps of rubbish on the property were growing and on a recent patrol they had seen a fire going.
“A man living there had made a makeshift fire on the floor to heat water. These fires are dangerous because they are making it in the front section of the house. The winter season is here, so we are expecting more fires.
“If the fire can’t be contained and it spreads the people living at the back of the house will not be able to escape. The neighbouring houses are also in danger because these houses are built close together,” said Ms Visser.
“The City is missing the fact that if the house catches fire, the people living at the back are going to die. We are trying to pre-empt what is going to happen,” she said.
She said hopefully the new owners would clean up the property and get the illegal tenants off it.
Last week, Mr Bosman confirmed that the house had been reported to the Problem Building Unit but that it had not been declared a problem building yet. He said the house had been flagged as a “potential problem building”.
“It means that the property fulfils the criteria of a problem building in terms of the by-law. However, the property has not been declared a problem building due to the dynamics surrounding the case,” said Mr Bosman.
He said it was up to the police to deal with any criminal activities taking place on or around the property.