GIMME SHELTER

Land invasions, title deed confusion and dodgy contractors bedevil Gauteng housing backlog

By Lelethu Tonisi 18 September 2019

Lebogang Maile (Photo: Gallo Images / The Times / Sydney Seshibedi)

Gauteng’s housing MEC, Lebogang Maile, says the province is making good progress in addressing the huge housing backlog, but there are still major problems.

Briefing the media on progress made by his department in delivering services, Gauteng’s MEC for Human Settlements, Urban Planning and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Lebogang Maile said the programme is well on its way to addressing issues of land hunger across the province, issues that ultimately lead to a land invasion.

He said he wants citizens to lead the process of building their own houses. The province is procuring serviced stands that will be available to those who “are ready and able to build houses for themselves in line with the national government’s Zenzele Programme”.

You will remember that Premier [David] Makhura said we will provide people with 100,000 serviced stands in the next five years, so the first thing that we have done was to assess what is possible, and we can now report that we already have about 48,000 stands that are ready. They are at different stages; we just need to activate and make sure we allocate them,” he said.

Makhura, in his State of the Province Address on 1 July 2019, indicated that the housing backlog in Gauteng had remained alarmingly high at just over one million because of rapid urbanisation and the high rate of in-migration. The situation has not improved.

As we speak, the housing backlog in Gauteng stands at about 1.2-million. In the country it is about two million plus. It is growing every day, so to continue just building houses is not going to work, we need to make sure that we deal with the backlog first,” Maile said.

He said they had turned to various critical stakeholders such as the Deeds Office, Social Housing Regulatory Authority, National Housing Finance Corporation and the home-builders’ regulatory authority, the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) in efforts to significantly reduce the title deed backlogs, which he estimated to be around 200,000-plus.

According to Maile, the province has a service level agreement with the Deeds Office whereby registration will be regulated and clinched within five working days if lodgement is submitted by one of the conveyancing firms on the department’s panel.

Maile added that Gauteng will sponsor national legislation to deal with the registration of family ties. This initiative will be done through a joint partnership with the National Department of Justice and the Deeds Office as the province plans to explore the registration of family ties because there are properties that cannot be registered because of family disputes.

With title deeds you only have one person’s name, with permits you can state more than one. But with the new law that was changed, and as a result this is causing a lot of family feuds and delays in the process of title registrations. That’s why we are going to sponsor a law through the National Council of Provinces to introduce what we call the Family Titles, so a title deed can reflect more than one person,” he said.

Maine said they had met with the NHBRC, who are responsible for monitoring the construction of homes, and came to an agreement regarding the lack of adherence to required standards by some contractors. Contractors working with the NHBRC who failed to deliver would be blacklisted.

The province is sorting out a beneficiary management database while also piloting a biometric system that will keep track of all the people in the province’s database awaiting houses.

The process of rolling out the biometric system has started. Once it’s complete we will officially launch it in public and make sure we are able to deal with the backlog.”

Maine acknowledged that land invasions were a huge problem that amounts to lawlessness. A strategy aimed at dealing with the issue is in the pipeline. “We have that strategy and it is going to be proactive and include other government departments,” he said.

A team has also been put in place to investigate municipalities and recommend on how best to deal with the Back-2-Basics programme and improve service delivery in those municipalities

We have relooked master plans for five renewal areas in Alex, Evaton, Kliptown, Bergesdal, and Winterveld.

What we have been doing is firstly checking where we can get land and have identified four areas. Those places of land are next to Alex so that we are able to decant Alex and develop it block by block.” DM

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