Council to approve rapid title deed transfer programme and yet more social housing land release

27 Oct 2022 in Where We Govern

Two major steps forward in the Land Release for Affordable Housing Mayoral Priority Programme are in the process of being approved by the City Council today, 27 October. Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis addressed Council on the new ‘No Cost Transfer Programme’, which will see long-standing rental tenants become homeowners via the rapid transfer of some 1500 title deeds this year alone for affordable rental stock units (CRUs) and similar municipal-owned properties. Council will further approve the public participation process for the release of the Fruit & Veg site for social housing, in the heart of Cape Town CBD, which forms part of 1130 units in central Cape Town approved by Council since May this year. Also on the agenda for approval is 26 000m2 erf in the Blue Downs vicinity for integrated affordable housing development. To read the full council speech click here.

‘I am particularly excited today to announce our “No Cost Transfer Programme”, which will allow long-standing tenants of Community Residential Units or CRUs to buy their units – with the transfer costs covered by the City in full. In other words, these tenants will become property owners at no cost at all. This is a big policy shift that will have a far-reaching impact for generations to come Some of these families have lived in these homes for decades. Some have raised children and grandchildren there. Now, these homes can be theirs so that when great-grandchildren arrive, they can one day live in a home that is theirs. This is true empowerment. This is breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty and changing the lives of our poorest residents.

Our goal is for all our residents to be able to enjoy the dignity of a home. Apartheid moved people to the distant corners of South Africa’s cities, and entrenched intergenerational poverty by taking away people’s homes and stopping them from saving, owning assets and passing them down to their children. Our government is passionate about seeing many more people as home owners, with a stake in the success of our society and committed to our mutual prosperity. To break the cycle of intergenerational poverty we have to help people get themselves on to the first rung of the asset ownership ladder. We have to help people own homes,’ said Mayor Hill-Lewis.

The City is currently focusing on at least 7500 units that are ready for their tenants to own because they are single residential units or maisonettes. Sectional title schemes will be next as the programme is extended across the city.

Many tenants of the City’s affordable rental stock make use of the national housing code’s “Enhanced Extended Discount Benefit Scheme (EEDBS)”, which provides a small subsidy to support their purchase of their rental unit. However, this policy places several financial burdens on beneficiaries, including requiring them to settle the balance of the purchase price after subsidy, rental and services arrears, insurance payments, and transfer costs. This often causes severe or indefinite delays in the transfer of title deeds.

‘The EEDBS limits transfer opportunities by insisting that beneficiaries who earn in excess of R3 500 must pay towards the settlement of the remaining debt. These financial hurdles make it harder for the City to transfer the remaining 7500 saleable rental stock units; a further 12 000 delayed unit transfers under various programmes since 1957; and around 1 500 serviced sites under municipal ownership. This is set to change with a new innovative programme to cover these costs on behalf of beneficiaries. This will not only rapidly scale up title deed transfers to qualifying tenants, but also save money by reducing ongoing maintenance costs to properties stuck in municipal ownership,’ said Councillor Malusi Booi, Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements.

As part of the newly approved No Cost Transfer Programme the City will:

  • Approach the provincial and national authorities to deviate from the national housing code provision forcing beneficiaries to settle outstanding debts on a property before ownership can be transferred
  • Fund the payment of transfer fees on behalf of beneficiaries, and fix these fees at R2 500 regardless of the property value
  • Write-off rental and municipal services arrears on rental units where these are in excess of the relevant national housing subsidy

1130 Social Housing units greenlit since May

Another central Cape Town property is set to be released for social housing development following council approval today. The Fruit & Veg site, in the inner City received Council’s authority to advertise the intention to release for social housing. This site is expected to deliver around 150 social housing units as part of a mixed-market development.

There are hundreds of thousands of Capetonians who are able to pay something for accommodation, but who cannot afford to rent anything available now. They live in backyards in Kalkfontein and Tafelsig. Some pay two thousand rand to rent a shack in DuNoon or Joe Slovo, or a tiny room in Delft or Lentegeur. That is why we are so focused on freeing up land faster for more social housing.

And today we bring another piece of land to Council, the so-called ‘Fruit and Veg’ site, right in the middle of the CBD, in Roeland Street. With today’s approval we can proceed to a competitive process to release this site to deliver another 150 social housing units. There is a steady drum beat of these properties through the system, being approved in Council every month and on their way to delivering social housing projects. With this latest property, we have now had 1130 social housing unit approvals through Council since May,’ said Mayor Hill-Lewis.

The Land Release for Affordable Housing Mayoral Priority programme has four pillars:

  • cutting red tape to enable faster private sector delivery;
  • enabling micro-developers to deliver more rental units;
  • giving people title deeds and clearing historical backlogs; and
  • speeding up the release of municipal land for social housing.

Council was also asked to approve the land release of an erf in the Blue Downs vicinity for a mixed use, integrated affordable housing development.

The well-located land parcel is approximately 26 000 m² in size, and is intended to provide opportunities for a variety of housing options and types.

The plans for the site include social, recreational, service and retail/commercial uses that are crucial to healthy, well-performing neighbourhoods. There is much work to be done to realise our vision for this land but we are committed to creating inclusive, integrated neighbourhoods here and across the metro.

‘It is encouraging that the City now has over 800 central Cape Town social housing units in or nearing the construction phase via social housing partners. These include Maitland (+-200 SH units), and three in Woodstock: Pine Road (+-240 SH units), Dillon Lane (+-150 SH units), and Salt River Market (+- 215 SH units). We are also not giving up on the Woodstock Hospital precinct, where around 700 social housing units have been delayed by the orchestrated building hi-jackings of March 2017. The City is committed to doing everything possible to fast-track this social housing through the correct legal channels. In total, the City currently has more than 6 500 social housing units in the overall pipeline across 50 land parcels citywide,’ said Cllr Booi.