Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Proposed Student Commune Policy of the City of Johannesburg

There is a tremendous shortage of quality affordable accommodation for students in our area– as a letting agency we have been inundated this year with students requesting accommodation in the Melville, Westdene, Auckland Park, Brixton areas. The council has realised this and is now busy with pro-active planning to solve the crisis.

As a letting agent we are trying to eradicate slumlording – guys housing 30+ people in properties suited to 5 – 10 people. It is important to understand that there are responsible and quality investors that would like to play an active role and that have quality properties available to let to students.

The council along with the relevant stakeholders (letting agents, UJ, WITS, residents) is working on a draft proposal for the standards of student accommodation and the way forward for a policy for JHB. Standards would look at amount of people per house/sqm, health regulations, student conduct etc.

The student housing policy will also address issues regarding future development.

There is talk of granting an amnesty period to landlords that do not comply fully with the proposed standards and to bring these landlords onboard within a systemised environment. This should help with eradicating slumlords and creating the required standards. Standards would probably also include similar elements to that found within the Tourism Grading council, Guest House Associations etc.

It looks like the biggest concern from permanent residents in the aforementioned areas is that of noise and devaluating property prices – if a agent such as ourselves is used to manage the property such incidences are managed – we have a zero tolerance policy for unruly behaviour and conduct and we have in the past issued immediate eviction notices to tenants that do not want to be part of a harmonious suburb.

All in all it is work in progress and very exciting times – there are offcourse always people out there that hate the word student and one cannot reason with these individuals. They will at all costs shoot down any proactive proposals relating to student accommodation and the management there off. They do not like proactive change and don’t contribute productively to any solutions.

We are very excited and look forward to seeing final drafts presented by council. It is important to understand that we stay in a metropolis that is fully developed and one cannot compare the situation in JHB to that of Potch or Stellenbosch. We need to look at densification and unique strategies to assist in easing the tremendous backlog of required student housing.

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