'Rogue' landlords in Nelson Mandela Bay's sight as derelict buildings demolished
Three derelict buildings on a list of forty identified as problem buildings have been demolished and notices of intent for others have been issued as the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality starts taking action against landlords who have allowed their properties to turn into a state of despair.
The city is still waiting for a new problem buildings by-law to be adopted by the Nelson Mandela Bay council later this month. In the meantime it has taken a proactive approach, establishing a special committee to deal with problematic buildings in Nelson Mandela Bay.
In a media conference earlier this week, mayor Athol Trollip announced that the municipality had identified and categorised 40 problem buildings in Ward 1 and 5, which included Richmond Hill and Central. He said these wards had been identified as a major concern but said the programme would be rolled out across the city in due course.
"This has primarily been done to send an unambiguous message to the rogue landlords, who are failing to co-operate with the city," he said.
Trollip said the identified buildings were in a dire state, and often became havens for criminals who used them for illegal activities ranging from drug use and prostitution to places to stash stolen property and squatting.
Trollip said of the 40 identified properties, only four matters had been resolved through the Municipality's intervention. He said a further 11 cases were still pending investigation, while there are 15 matter in abeyance.
Trollip said the municipality had appointed five firms of attorneys to assist in dealing with the problematic property owners, who for years have ignored notices from the Municipality.
"We are guided by all applicable legislation in dealing with the matter and have thus issued notices to all owners to either tidy up their properties or demolish them," he said.
He said to date nine property owners had already been taken to court, and litigation was proceeding against them as they have failed to attend to the notices served.
"We also have the full support of the Provincial Resources Heritage Authority (PHRA) and the Nelson Mandela Bay Heritage Trust, who have both commended our decisive action.
"The action against the targeted landlords is designed to ensure that all areas where there are problem buildings, the City deals harshly with those implicated to help restore dignity and aesthetic value of the area," he said.
"But more importantly, this is also done to rid the affected communities of habitual criminal behaviour which occurs as a result of these abandoned buildings."
Trollip said some of the challenges being faced could be traced back to provincial government departments and parastatals such as Transnet.
"In our quest to address the challenge of problem buildings, we have also given notice to Transnet to start fixing its derelict buildings in the South End area which have become an eyesore," he said.
Trollip said timeframes had been given to Transnet, and these would be monitored closely, as the parastatal did not have a good reputation for adhering to commitments it made.
He said the municipality had also served notice on the department of education to start tidying up, securing and or demolishing many of their school buildings that lay unoccupied across the Metro.
"We have also written to them and have proposed a solution whereby the department can hand these buildings over to the Metro, so that they can be used as youth centres or for any community development initiatives.
"Any building that is not tenanted, ultimately becomes a hub for criminal activities and this is what the Metro is fighting against," he said.