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Thursday Jun 30, 2016

Pietermaritzburg to crack down on problem buildings

The Msunduzi Municipality's "problem buildings by-laws", which deal with buildings that are derelict, abandoned, overcrowded and illegally occupied, have been adopted by the council's executive committee and will be published in the government gazette.

The manager of the city's legal services, Johan van der Merwe, said the purpose of the by-laws was to protect the local community against risks arising from problem buildings.

Once published they would indirectly contribute to service provision as they would strengthen the municipality's ability to deal with problematic buildings.

The process to deal with such buildings had been outlined in the by-laws.

The document said the municipality would first have to identify a "problem building" and serve notice on the owner of the municipality's intention to declare the building a problem building. The owner could then make representations.

The municipality would consider them and decide whether to declare the building a problem building or not. Where justified, it would be declared as such.

A detailed investigation would be done relating to the risk to occupants as well as a profile of the occupants. The owner would be entitled to be present and make representations.

A further notice would be served on the owner identifying the risks and specific steps the owner had to take within a specified time-frame to rectify the problems, including repairs and demolitions.

Where a problem building was occupied, a compliance notice would be served on the occupiers advising them the building had been declared a problem and instructing the owner to take specific steps.

The by-laws gave the municipality the power to evict the tenants. However, it would have to provide a list of alternative accommodation.

Costs incurred by the municipality to remedy a contravention could be charged to the owner's municipal account.

Any person convicted of an offence under the bylaw was liable to a fine not exceeding R1 million, imprisonment of up to three years, or both.

In the case of a continuing offence, for each day of the offence the offender would be fined R5 000 or less, or have to spend not more than 10 days in jail, or both.

The Mercury


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