Tenants paid to leave

The Communicare Drommedaris complex on Koeberg Road.

Social-housing non-profit company Communicare has been offering money to its tenants across the city if they agree to move out of their homes.

The letter gives tenants of the low-cost rental units until the end of the month to take up the offer and move out before the end of July.

Pensioner Sina van Wyk is one of those of who got a letter. She fears Communicare is trying to get rid of elderly tenants in favour of those who can pay higher rents.

Ms Van Wyk, 80, has lived at the Drommedaris complex in Brooklyn since 2002 and pays just under R450 rent a month for her bachelor flat.

She had thought Drommedaris was only for pensioners and the very poor, but had noticed others living in the units who were better off.

“I feel that Communicare is targeting the elderly who can’t compete with what others are paying, and now this is their way of trying to kick us out. My question is, where will we go?”

The letter to Ms Van Wyk offers her R5 050 to move out. Others are being offered much less.

Another Drommedaris resident, who didn’t want his name published, said he was offered R1 800.

Communicare CEO Anthea Houston said they had followed up the letters with text messages.

“We are aware that some of our tenants may be confused or may be misled by gossip about the incentive offer, which is why we sent out the SMS to help clarify.”

Communicare’s call centre had been getting calls and emails asking for more information about the offer and some tenants had said they were ready to accept it, she said.

Thembeka Mpisane lives in a semi-detached one-bedroom house with her child in Brooklyn, paying R2 500 a month. She has no intention of taking the offer of R3 970.59 to move.

“I’ve been living here since 2011. Initially we were led to believe that these houses would be rent-to-buy, and we understood that in five years time, we would be owning the place.

“It’s seven years later now, and the only thing that seems to be consistent is that the rent goes up yearly,” she said.

The properties, she said, were falling apart and residents had to fix them themselves.

Brooklyn and Ysterplaat Neighbourhood Watch vice chairman Peter Landsberg said Communicare might not be forcing people to move, “but imagine offering R5 000 for someone who barely has means to survive. The person will take that as a windfall. Within a month, that money is finished and we will sit with an ever increasing homeless problem”.

Some residents said Communicare should have held public meetings with its tenants before sending out the letters.

In 2009, Tabletalk reported that Communicare had started introducing much higher rentals over a period of five to 10 years to recoup annual losses (“Tenants face rent shocker,” January 21 2009, Tabletalk).