Sunday, May 31, 2009

Student Letting - where to start (UK)

Where to Start?
Research is key, if you are looking to buy in an area or city unknown to you, then it is essential to understand which parts are right for you and your prospective students. Many cities have more than one major college or uni, some providing campuses solely for students; this is generally a good place to start.

Students want to live near other students, close to uni and have easy access to the centre of town. Avoid areas where the locals have a bad reputation with students!

What to Look For?
Before looking it is good to have an idea of what you are looking for, depending on your experience, budget, time scale and confidence. Larger properties usually have greater potential for profit but also carry a greater risk. Luckily planning regulations are set to change to make it easier for owners to make home improvements. For example: adding bathrooms or bedrooms, small extensions and tackling climate change, which should help you develop your student house to maximize profit and desirability.

A successful student house is situated near an academic landmark, such as a university, library or hospital. It has two or more bedrooms, ideally around 4 or 5, since the more students living there, the more rent is generated. Also communal areas will always be appreciated and could be the clincher that keeps your property in demand. If your property does not meet the above requirements, it might be more suitable targeting professionals instead of students, who are generally looking for fewer bedrooms, good size open plan kitchens, off street parking and a garden. It is essential to know the right target audience for your property.
Things to remember

Choosing a reliable letting agent is crucial, make sure they are registered with the ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) to avoid being scammed and a good letting agent should make your student letting as stress free as possible. Registering the house with the local university or academic establishment will also help attract as many students as possible. Be careful to make sure your property complies with the latest health and safety regulations, including things like having a valid gas safety certificate.

Finally it's a good idea to insert a damage clause into the tenancy agreement, to cover and protect your possessions / furnishings within the house.

Article Source : Industrial Real Estate

Comment sought on housing by-laws

Written by Rudo Mungoshi

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Complaints from neighbours have prompted the City to draw up by-laws regarding communal housing, particularly regarding student digs.

A set of draft by-laws is being prepared to crack down on overcrowding in accommodation intended for students and low-income workers, and the City wants public input into its plans.

A public meeting will be held on Thursday, 28 May from 6pm to 8.30pm at the council chambers in the University of Johannesburg's new administration building on its Kingsway Campus, to discuss the future of communal housing.

According to the assistant director of development planning and facilitation, Linah Dube, the draft policy seeks to address slumlording and reduce the number of illegal establishments in the city.

The draft policy is being formulated in response to complaints made by residents staying close to the universities of Johannesburg and the Witwatersrand regarding the behaviour of students living in near-by communes.

The complaints relate to:

  • The high incidence of anti-social behaviour, including noise, particularly late at night;
  • Littering;
  • Traffic congestion and illegal parking, especially in front of drive ways and on pavements; and
  • Overcrowded houses.

"The residents are not only complaining about the students. They are also concerned about slumlording and the general decay of the residential area. The slumlords often take advantage of less fortunate students and lowly paid workers and crowd them in inhumane conditions for profit," she said.

There are about 63 000 students registered at the two niversities, which only provide accommodation for 15 000 students. The rest of those students whose homes are not in Johannesburg, have to find living space in nearby neighbourhoods.

Communal housing provides an income for property owners and renters, while meeting the need for suitable accommodation of students and the working class.

Comments on the draft by-laws should be submitted before Monday, 22 June to Linah Dube, at the Metro Centre, 10th floor, A Block; or by email to
or by phone on 011 407 6906/21.

Copies of the draft by-laws will be available online from 3 June, and at the following Customer Care Centres from 4 June:

  • Region A, Midrand: 300 15th Road, Randiespark, Midrand. Tel: 011 203 3605 / 3300;
  • Region B, Northcliff: ACA Krans Building, 35 Symons Road, Auckland Park. Tel: 011 718 9612 / 3 or 011 718 9650;
  • Region C, Roodepoort: Ground Floor, Roodepoort Civic Centre, 100 Christiaan de Wet Road, Florida Park. Tel: 011 761 0145 / 0146 / 0140 / 0440;
  • Region D, Soweto: Sophie Masite Civic Centre, Koma Road, Jabulani. Tel: 011 986 0178 / 0296 / 0077;
  • Diepkloof: Diepkloof People's Centre, 729 Zone 1, Talani Street, Diepkloof. Tel: 011 985 1003;
  • Region E, Alexandra: 8th Avenue, Alexandra. Tel: 011 531 5591;
  • Sandton: A Block, Civic Centre, Sandton. Tel: 011 881 6241;
  • Region F, inner city: ground floor, CJ Cronje Building, 80 Loveday Street, Braamfontein. Tel: 011 376 8600;
  • Braamfontein: Amukelani Masia Stakeholder Relationship Management, ground floor, A Block Metro Centre Building, 158 Loveday Street, Braamfontein. Tel: 011 407 6700 or 073 2531538;
  • Region G, Ennerdale: corner Katz and Smith streets, Ennerdale Extension 9. Tel: 011 213 0056; or
  • Joburg South: Eureka House, 92 Marlborough Road, Springfield. Tel: 011 681 8000.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Auckland Park - Student Hotpsot

Buy-to-let investors are beginning to take an interest once more in Auckland Park, which is one of Johannesburg’s prime spots for student accommodation.

So says Lewis Kennett, sales agent for leading local agency Homenet/ Harcourts Jon Rosenberg, who notes that investor interest has been rekindled by the fact that entry-level bachelor lofts in the area are now being marketed for around R350 000.

Additionally, there is no shortage of rental demand. Set between Wits University and the University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park attracts thousands of students annually, and is also popular with academics, doctors and nurses at the nearby hospitals and media workers at the SABC and Mediapark complexes, who pay an average R3000 monthly rent.

Says Kennett: “Additionally, there is no shortage of takers for rooms at the student houses and communes in Auckland Park which generally go for around R1700pm. However, most owners are opting to hold on to these properties as they can afford to do so.”

More upmarket accommodation is also available to students at The Yard, where sectional title units are renting for up to R9000pm and cost over R1m to buy.

As for the ordinary freehold properties in Auckland Park, they are being targeted by black diamonds and increasingly, Indian buyers. Indeed, notes Kennett, the Muslim community has grown to such an extent that a mosque is currently being built in the area.

Article by:

Monday, May 25, 2009

Student Loans

Getting an education has never been so important, but how does one go about financing such an expensive investment?

A student loan is probably the first and last dread of every student! Its the endless thought of debt hanging over your head with a little factor called interest still playing with your mind. But it's still probably the most utilised option and this method has helped thousands of South Africans achieve successful qualifications!

So how do you go about sorting out your student loans? It's quite a procedure but it's quicker if you do your preparation first.

Step 1: You need to have been accepted into a South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) accredited institution.

Step 2: You need a valid ID.

Step 3: Proof of Registration at the institution.

Step 4: A set of your previous results (this can be matric, varsity, college etc, wherever you last studied)

Step 5: Life insurance: If you haven’t had a life insurance policy made for you, the bank will arrange one for you.

Step 6: Proof of residence not more than three months old.

Step 7: You need to find someone to stand surety for your loan, this person needs to have a full time job and not be black listed. The person will be responsible for paying the monthly interest on the loan during the period of study as well as stand guarantor for the loan. The person needs to provide a copy of their ID, a salary slip not older than three months and marriage status documents (i.e. if the individual is married in community of property etc). Finally the individual
standing surety will also need to provide proof of residency and again not older than three months old.

Hectic we know, you pretty much giving everything except a sample of your DNA.

Okay here are some quick tips and facts:

1.The individual who is taking the loan can actually stand surety for themselves! Provided they have a full time job and a salary slip not older than three months (yet again another three month rule!!)
2.Compare options that various banks and financial institutions have to offer, you may be able to negotiate a better interest rate.
3.Once you start paying off your loan, speak to your bank about an extension in the case of you not being able to make the full payment in the allocated time.

Standard Bank:
First National Bank:


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Wireless Internet to be introduced at all residences

Let and Stay is rolling out a very exciting program to have all its managed residences connected to the Internet.

We will be introducing wireless technology to offer all our tenants access to the Internet at broadband speeds.

The costs would be very affordable and will be cheaper than for instance a 3G connection from one of the cellular phone operators. Tenants would be able to buy their bandwidth online (credit card or SMS) or with prepaid vouchers available from our office.

With your WI-FI enabled desktop or laptop you would now be able to be part of the online community and hopefully contribute to your studies (and music collection) more productively. In addition to your data connectivity you would also be able to use ADSL phone technology such as Skype to keep in touch with your family and friends.

Non Let and Stay landlords wanting to offer this service to their tenants are welcome to contact Let and Stay to discuss the option of installing this system at their properties and offering their tenants this value added service.

State of the art IT system to be introduced

Let and Stay has embarked on an ambitious revamp of their IT system offering a myriad of (free) benefits to landlords and tenants alike. They have partnered with an international group to offer the following benefits with this new system:

Landlords will be able to log online and in real time view 24/7;
  • Tenants in their properties.

  • Disbursement history.

  • Property inspection reports with photos.

  • Investment reports such as vacancy rates and extra charges vs income.

  • Online statements

  • Updating of details and correspondence with Let and Stay.

  • and much more...

Tenants would be able to log online and view their payment history, extra charges levied, outstanding amounts due, updating of personal details, property inspection reports with comments and several other features.

The system is truly state of the art and will give Let and Stay the opportunity to offer its clients a 21st century, online solution, as a value added benefit.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Baie kampusse, min plek - UJ bars uit sy nate Beeld 3 March 2009

Chantal Gouws

Baie studente het al 13:00 die Studentesentrum (SS) aangedurf en was dadelik spyt oor hul besluit. Middagete is geen tyd om die SS te betree nie – tensy dit vir jou pret klink om in ’n ry te staan.

Dit is maar een van die bewyse dat die Auckland Park -kampus (APK) oorbevolk is. Die SS is vol, parkering is skaars en badkamers is vol.

Maar dit is die oorvol klasse wat die meeste studente moedeloos maak.

Engelse B.Comm. (rekeningkunde)-studente op die APK voel veral die effek van die bevolkingsdruk.

Adele de Vos, ’n eerstejaar-rekeningkundestudent, het ’n sterk mening daaroor. “Ek haat dit! Ons moet altyd ’n uur voor die tyd in die klas wees of ons kry nie plek nie!”
Michelle Gouws, ’n derdejaarregsstudent, sê hul Engelse klasse is sedert 2007 oorbevolk. “Mense sit al vir drie jaar op die trappe.”

Op die Doornfontein-kampus (DFC) en Buntingstraat-kampus (APB) voel studente ook dié druk.
Richardt Lemmer, ’n derdejaar-chiropraktisynstudent op DFC, sê al loop hul klasse nie oor nie, is daar nooit parkering beskikbaar nie.

Anke van Zyl, wat besig is met haar honneursgraad in bedryfsielkunde, is ’n tutor op APB. Buiten die feit dat die klasse warm is, kry sy die studente jammer. “Dis ongemaklik. Hulle kan nie op die bord sien van die trappe af nie.”

Volgens mnr. Herman Esterhuizen, mediabeampte van die Universiteit van Johannesburg (UJ), het daar teen 18 Februarie 2009 ’n totaal van 46 273 studente by die universiteit geregistreer. Daar is vanjaar 3 659 meer eerstejaars as in 2008.

Die UJ moet voldoen aan riglyne wat gestel word deur die nasionale departement van onderwys se enrolment plan vir elke universiteit wat studentegetalle en subsidies bepaal. Maar as kapasiteit ’n probleem is, wat het van ons ander kampus, die Oos-Rand-kampus (ERC), geword?
Dié kampus is kort na die ontstaan van UJ “tydelik” gesluit om dit te omskep in ’n kampus wat sou spesialiseer in ingenieurswese en bou-wetenskappe.

’n Oud-ERC student, wat anoniem wil bly, voel sy hele lewe is ontwrig deur die sluiting.
“Daar is aan ons beloftes gemaak omtrent vervoer en die heropening van die kampus, maar dit het nooit gebeur nie.” Hy durf maar daagliks die verkeer aan Auckland Park toe. Volgens hom word daar gereeld vergaderings beplan tussen oudstudente van die ERC en universiteitsowerhede, maar dit word glo telkens gekanselleer.

Esterhuizen sê UJ gaan op versoek van die nasionale departement van onderwys ’n omvangryke voorlegging aan dié departement oor die toekoms van die ERC maak.
Die voorstel behels dat die fakulteit ingenieurswese en bou-omgewing op dié kampus programme in vervaardigings-ingenieurswese sal aanbied, in samewerking met ’n plaaslike FET-kollege.
“Om dié programme te kan aanbied, moet daar duur infrastruktuur geskep word. UJ kan nie die koste daarvan alleen dra nie,” sê Esterhuizen.

UJ het die departement van onderwys gevra om staatsfondse beskikbaar te stel vir die ontwikkeling van die ERC. Die departement sal blykbaar teen einde vandeesmaand formeel op dié versoek reageer.

Tot 30 studente bly in 1 huis in die buurte - Beeld 1 April 2009

Daniëlla du Plooy en Liezl Temmingh

Tientalle studente op klein erwe, gemors en voortdurende geraas en musiek.

Dít is van die probleme wat huis eienaars en inwoners van onder meer Auckland Park, Brixton, Melville en Westdene in Johannesburg ervaar met mense wat erwe onderverdeel en uitverhuur – dikwels onwettig – aan meestal desperate studente van die Universiteit van Johannesburg (UJ).

Volgens me. Cindy Grobbelaar, DA-raadslid vir Vrededorp (wyk 69), weet sy van ongeveer 80 huise wat onwettig in kamerwonings omgeskep is.

In een so ’n huis woon daar volgens haar byvoorbeeld sowat 30 studente. “Hulle wil naby die universiteit bly, want hulle het nie motors nie. Dan woon hulle in haglike omstandighede.

“Van die kamers, waarvoor hul tot R1 700 kan betaal, het net plek vir ’n enkelbed en geen vensters nie. Dít terwyl die eienaars derduisende rande per maand maak.”

’n Eiendomsagent, wat nie haar naam genoem wil hê nie, sê sy doen waardasies vir van dié huise.
“Ek het by een plek ’n student gevind wat in ’n spens woon. Hy betaal R500 per maand, maar kan nie eens regop staan in die vertrek nie.”

In van die huise is glo ook onwettige kragkabels. Volgens haar skep die slumlords, soos sy hulle noem, ook probleme vir ander inwoners. “Die eienaars koop klomp huise in een straat en prop dit vol mense. Dit het ’n vreeslike geraas tot gevolg en lei tot reuse-hoofbrekens vir ander inwoners. “Húl huise se waarde daal, want niemand anders wil daar kom bly of koop nie.”

Grobbelaar sê die huiseienaars kry dít reg omdat die wet nie behoorlik toegepas word nie. Volgens haar is die stad se beleid vir kommuneverblyf nog nie voltooi nie. “Van die eienaars ignoreer bloot die reëls wat daar wel is. Wanneer ons begin met regsaksie, kan dit tot drie jaar neem voordat daar ’n beslissing is. Teen daardie tyd is hulle al skatryk.”

Sy sê die aanvraag na UJ-verblyf is bloot te groot.“Daar is net te veel studente en geen behoorlike beplanning nie. ’n Gebied moet geïdentifiseer word en in hoë digtheidsverblyf omgeskep word.”

Brooklyn se kommunes nog onder beheer

Brooklyn se kommunes nog onder beheer:
Apr 02 2009 06:34:48:733PM - (SA)

Hans Wegelin van die Burgervereniging van Brooklyn en Oostelike Gebiede skryf:

Gister se berig oor onwettige studenteverblyf in woonbuurte naby die Universiteit van Johannesburg (UJ), die inkomste wat die slumlords daaruit kry en die gevolglike stedelike verval, verwys.

Inwoners van Brooklyn, langs die Universiteit van Pretoria, sien daagliks hoe ons eie slumlords mooi groot huise aan die genade van studente oorlaat. Ons het niks teen studente nie, maar ons weet almal dat jy in daardie stadium van jou lewe nie besorg is oor die dinge wat ’n residensiële gebied sy waarde laat behou nie, soos geboue en tuine wat versorg word en stilte in die nag.

Ons het dit teen eienaars wat nie op die perseel woon nie en nie ’n flenter omgee vir wat dit aan die omgewing doen nie.

Gelukkig het Tshwane ’n kommunebeleid, wetstoepassing bestaan nog en die lede van ons burgervereniging probeer hul bes.

En dan is daar ook kommunes waar die eienaar steeds op die perseel woon, waar die huis en tuin versorg is en stilte snags gehandhaaf word.

As ons dit nie bly doen nie, is ons voorland die gemors wat om die UJ heers."

Students fuel rental demand

Denise Mhlanga
07 January 2009

Residential letting agents get set for bumper season, as demand for student accommodation in some areas outweighs available supply.

Estate agents in areas located close to universities and other higher learning institutions say 2009 should be a good year, with high demand for student accommodation already being experienced.

A week into 2009, already some 400 university students in Johannesburg have secured accommodation outside of campuses and the number is set to increase come February when universities open.

That's according to Richard Rubin, chief executive officer of Aengus Property Holdings. He says there is huge demand for accommodation in Braamfontein and surrounding areas and limited supply.

Students renting out properties during the year include local and international students, the latter largely from the African continent.

"Since we opened for the year, already we have taken 400 students for the available properties," he said. He said January and February are always the busiest months in the year and students sign leases of 10 months.

Basically, the student market is the best place to be as there is guaranteed rental income for 10 months and when students like the places they rent, they usually renew for the following year, according to Rubin..

Asked about rentals, he said they range from R2 000 and R2 500 a month with two students sharing in most cases. "This is a good part of the market and investor returns are far better than the residential property market," said Rubin.

Daphne Timm, principal of Pam Golding Properties in Grahamstown, said Rhodes University and schools in the area have generally always kept the residential market going.

Despite new developments in the area, there is never enough student accommodation available.
"The student property market is definitely buoyant - just not enough stock to meet demand," said Timm. Rentals range from R1 500 and R2 200 for a room.

In some parts of Cape Town, parents sign annual leases for their children. Some are prepared to pay as much as R8 000 per month on rentals for upmarket apartments. Kevin Crassord, estate agent at Just Letting Atlantic Seaboard, said student rentals make up about 5% of the total lettings, though offerings on this side of Cape Town and they tend to be very expensive compared to student accommodation elsewhere. Average rentals are between R7 000 and R8 000 a month and the cheapest accommodation is R5 000 per month for a one-bedroom apartment.

Fred Johnson, estate agent at Tyson Properties Westville, Durban, said as universities keep expanding demand for accommodation will be continue to pick up. He said, in Westville, there are small rooms priced at R1 800 a month, while upmarket student accommodation costs from R4 500 per month. The granny flats in most areas are used as student accommodation and as long as they are priced right and suit students' lifestyles, they would be rented out.

"The student market is doing well, and prices are steady with a good supply of accommodation," said Johnson.

Bursaries - What to Know, Where to Go - Eduloan

So, you've got your matriculation certificate in hand, your hopes set high and you're standing on the threshold of ‘what next?'. Now is the time to decide what you are going to study, where you are going to study and how you are going to do it.

There's no doubt that tertiary education is a costly business - you can expect to pay between R15, 000 and R25,000 per year for most undergraduate degrees and even more for specialised or professional degrees such as law and medicine.

Your first port of call should be to suss out the available bursaries. Bursaries are available to students with a good academic record or in need of financial assistance, or both. They can be sourced through major companies, tertiary institutions, or academic foundations. Many mining and engineering companies, for example, offer ‘contract' bursaries to dedicated students, and each company has it's own terms and conditions. These bursaries are provided on the condition that you ‘pay back' the bursary by working at the company after your studies are complete. This is a good option, as you land a job and work experience immediately upon graduating.

The first thing to do is to check out the Bursary Register, which is usually available at high schools and through the financial aid offices of universities, and will provide you with a full list of bursaries available in your chosen field of study.

Even easier than that - log on to the ‘Get-a-Life' website on, which is South Africa's largest single open database of bursaries to SA students - for both local and international study. Their listings are comprehensive and you can click straight through to specific websites and application forms.

Another very helpful site for bursary listings is, which also list bursaries by field of study to minimise your search time.

And lastly, try, for good advice and some comprehensive listings.
So, you've sent out your bursary applications and - lo and behold - you have a bite! After you have whooped for joy, jumped up and down and celebrated wildly, it's time to come back down to earth and face the finance facts. You have to learn fast to manage your hard won money and make it go as far as it possibly can. With our current crazy economy the humble rand is not stretching as far as it used to and the last thing you want is your money squandered by bad management.

When you get your bursary, some do include money for textbooks, accommodation, food etc. To manage these funds effectively you can use a financial tool such as Edu-Loan's Edu-Extras card. This card is a bursary management tool specifically for students and designed like a debit card. The card has within it five ‘pockets' - for tuition, accommodation, textbooks, food and cash, and can be used at a specified range of suppliers/outlets like 7-11 and affiliated book stores which are specifically set up to accept them.

This makes managing your funds so much easier, as instead of spending your textbook money on food and pitching up for class with a full lunch-box but no books, you can use your funds for their exact purpose! For further information on the Edu-Extras card or obtaining any kind of study loan through Edu-Loan, visit or call their Client Services call-centre on: 0860-55-55-44.

Getting ready for life at varsity

In order to deal with a very demanding study programme, students need to be self-disciplined.

By Workplace staff

The transition from Grade 12 to university is notoriously difficult and can come as a huge shock to students still green behind the ears.So says Johan Wasserfall, CEO of Eduloan, a dedicated educational financial services provider, who believes the massive work and study load, as well as campus life and its inherent social minefield, can leave new students panicked and unsure of themselves.

"The temptations of and peer pressure related to dating, drugs and alcohol also play a role," he says."And then they suddenly have to be an 'adult' when it comes to managing costs within a student's budgetary constraints."This can sometimes lead to them making risky or bad choices as regards their studies, or even dropping out entirely.

"Wasserfall has some advice for students new to campus life:Workload - compared to grade 12, your workload is probably going to treble, if not quadruple. However, the problem lies not so much in the volume of work than the mismanagement of your time and lack of self-discipline.

Draw up a comprehensive class and study timetable, plan assignments and lectures in advance, and after lectures give yourself time to make notes and go over what you have learned. Certain lectures give you vital outline information for assignments or exams, and if you aren't in attendance, you simply miss out.

Remember, in varsity, there is no one watching over your shoulder: you are welcome to bunk classes, shirk responsibility and be a slacker - but the trade-off will be your degree.

Financial Management - no matter how you are financing your studies, ensure you draw up a budget and assign yourself certain "pockets" for your funds. Tuition fees, textbooks and study-aids, accommodation, transport, food and entertainment should all be budgeted for and strictly adhered to and don't be tempted to "borrow" from one pocket for another or you'll soon land up in a financial muddle. If you are going to be looking for a study loan, consider a specialist educational finance company like Eduloan, as they have systems in place that enable them to pay your tuition fees directly to your institution of learning, so there is never the temptation of misusing these funds.

Orientation - the student intranet available will give you lots of information, from lecture and exam timetables and venues to academic results, financial statements and social announcements.And, during your orientation period, the older students will guide you around the lecture halls, library, the students representative council rooms, the computer and media centres, gym, etc.

In the famed "Rag Week" that comes at the beginning of the year you will be assigned to a social group.You will become involved in inter-group competitions, shows and events, as well as a welcome party where there will be 'initiation' games.Although, mercifully, the days of cruel and horrific initiation rites are pretty much over, sometimes unsavoury practices still go down and you should steer clear of doing anything that makes you feel really uncomfortable or negates your personal or religious beliefs.

Transport - classes are scheduled at varying times throughout the day so, if you don't have a car you could find yourself in a transport nightmare.Try lift-sharing with other students and if you have to rely on mainstream public transport, chances are you will sometimes have hours to kill - don't squander this time: visit the library and do some swotting, get involved with sports activities or go to the gym.

Temptations - there will be endless parties and events, and there are bars, restaurants, shops and other enticements both on-campus, and sometimes within walking distance too. Don't accept every invitation, stick to one or two a week; and if you find yourself with gaps in lectures, don't be tempted to nip off for a drink. Think of your lecture and study time as your job and plan socials around these commitments.

When you do go to parties, go in a group, don't accept drinks from strangers and steer clear of parties involving the use of recreational drugs - trying to expand your brain with education while using toxic waste is simply pointless. Remember that the inner strength that you develop as a student will stay with you for the rest of your life!

Information in this article came is brought to you courtesy of Edu-Loan, a dedicated educational financial services provider. For more information, please visit or call their client services department on 0860-55-55-44. Published on the web by Star on December 6, 2008.
© Star 2008. All rights reserved.

Star - Standing up for your rights

Star - Standing up for your rights:

Students who feel their accommodation is inadequate or that their landlords are contravening lease agreements have as much right to complain as any other tenant, says Gauteng Rental Housing Tribunal chairman Trevor Bailey.

Bailey urged unhappy students to come to the tribunal's offices to lodge a complaint. Once the case is set up, an inspector from the tribunal would visit the house to verify the claims.

'There is no cost attached to complainants or the pending case. The bottom line is a student is still a tenant. They have the same rights as anyone else governed by the Rental Housing Act.'

He said the Gauteng MEC for Housing Nomvula Mokonyane had established a list of unfair practices, which stipulated best practices for landlords.

This includes that the landlord must maintain the common property in good order and repair, maintain electrical, plumbing, sanitation, heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems and elevator systems. The landlord must also maintain the outside, the walls and the roof.

'The landlord must let a dwelling reasonably fit for human habitation, which does not contravene the provision of unfair practices regulation, the (Rental Housing) act or any other law.'

Bailey said there were case clerks and case managers who would advise them on their matters.

'Students need to become activists about their accommodation.

'There is nothing we can do about it until a complaint is laid.'

Rulings at the tribunal have the power of a magistrate court judgment.

Star - Neighbours fed up with bid to control communes

Star - Neighbours fed up with bid to control communes

By Candice Bailey

Melville, Auckland Park and Westdene residents are up in arms over a city proposal to regulate communes. They say it will not stop problems with communes in the area.

The city's Residential Commune Policy, which is still in its draft state, is an attempt by the city to control communes, which have become problematic in many suburbs.

Constant complaints of noise, regular partying, traffic congestion and illegal parking are just some of the problems.

In the past residents have complained that their quality of life has been lost as they could not sleep two to three days a week and had even received death threats.

But the residents do not think the policy is the solution to this.

At a public community meeting this week, the Melville Residents' Association was inundated with complaints about student housing and concerns about the policy.

The policy would mean commune owners would need to apply for permits through the department of environmental health to run communes.

But residents say the proposal is incomplete and inaccurate and the policy will not address their current problems with the student housing.

City of Johannesburg spokesman Nthatisi Modingoane said the commune proposal was still a draft in its rawest form.

This house in Westdene is used as student accommodation with R1 200 rent per single room.

Published on the web by Star on March 27, 2009.

© Star 2009. All rights reserved."

Landlord denies packing students in like sardines - The Star 10 April 2009

But investigations find communes to be overpopulated and in a deplorable state

By Candice Bailey

A Joburg slumlord is alleged to be coining more than R1 million a month from 80 overcrowded student communes.

However, Sayed Abdollah Hoseini says he is merely providing much needed student accommodation in the area, of which there is a dire shortage in Joburg.

Two weeks ago the Saturday Star revealed that Hoseini was linked to more than 80 communes in and around Auckland Park, Melville, Westdene, Brixton and Vrededorp, raking in rent of R1m a month.
In one of his communes, the Saturday Star reported, Hoseini had crammed more than 80 people into a 64-roomed mega commune, which sprawled over two properties.Students at the 64-bedroom house in Second Avenue, Westdene, were being charged R1 600 for a single six-square- meter room and R1 200 per person sharing a double room.
Working on a minimum rental yield of R1 600 a room, the fully let property would bring in R100 000 a month to Hoseini despite accusations from students living there that the conditions were inhumane.

Students who spoke to the Saturday Star, told of one room with no windows, while others had windows that could not open. Another of the rooms had been converted into a bedroom from a shower.

This week Hoseini hit back, saying the property had been bought six to eight years ago and that when he wanted to convert it into a 16-bedroom house he was stopped by the city council, which subsequently lost his building plans.He said he had to have students living in the house because it was a running cost that had to be paid. Hoseini denied that he made more than R1m a month in rent, saying he owned only six properties in his personal capacity and a further three through his companies UniHome, Bureau Accommodation and Magadie Homes.

Each of the communes housed only 10 to 15 people and the commercial building housed between 40 and 60 people, he said. "It's impossible to have 80 properties. It is a complete lie. I don't have 80 properties. I wish I had an income anything close to this figure. "We all know that the property business is a loan-based business. We are all working for the banks. I can prove that for the last two years I was running this business at a loss," he said.

But the Saturday Star understands that officials in the City of Johannesburg have linked Hoseini to 75 properties and have been investigating links to several others. A city council official said not all the properties were registered in Hoseini's name as some were registered in the names of relatives.

This week the Saturday Star visited one of the buildings Hoseini owns in Vrededorp.Although Hoseini said his commercial building housed only between 40 and 60 people, the Saturday Star found that it had been converted into an overcrowded 104-room commune.The three-story building is at 38 8th Street in Vrededorp.There is only one kitchen per floor to serve the 30 rooms on that floor. The kitchens contain contain three two-plate burners and three fridges.There are about five toilets per floor and none has proper doors, only shower curtains. All the showers are unisex. The rooms are R1 600 for a single room. It is understood that there are also double rooms but that there were students sharing single rooms. With around 90 of the 104 rooms in the commune in operation, Hoseini is estimated to earn more than R140 000 a month from this commune.

A third-year student, who lives at the commune, spoke to the Saturday Star on condition of anonymity."The conditions are deplorable," he said.There was one TV room in the entire house which was in the basement, he said. "The kitchens are deplorable. The rooms are deplorable. The bathrooms are deplorable."He said that while the commune was supposed to be fitted with DSTV, the decoder was not there and while there were several washing machines on different floors, only one worked on the second floor, which most of the students used.

The individual bedroom which the Saturday Star saw could only fit a single bed, but would still accommodate a cupboard and a desk. The room is about 1m wide and less than 6m long. Another student said she was ashamed to say she lived there. "It is supposed to have weekly cleaning services, DSTV and be a quiet environment, but there is always noise, no DSTV and the place is dirty. The windows don't open."Some of the rooms are built in the middle of the property and have windows that open up on to the passage or staircase and have no fresh air.

Hoseini denied that the conditions at the Vrededorp commune were "unlivable". "What is overcrowded? Overcrowded by whose definition?" asked Hoseini.He said: "There are 45 000 students that need accommodation close to their school. "If the city council and universities are serious about addressing the issue, they can allocate a large piece of land and by 2012, I will accommodate 20 000 students."

Published on the web by Star on April 10, 2009.
© Star 2009. All rights reserved.

Slumlord running dozens of overcrowded communes - Star 27 March 2009

Westdene house has 64 rooms, some allow only a single mattress to fit inside

By Candice Bailey

A Johannesburg slumlord could be coining more than R1 million a month running more than 80 overcrowded communes and cramming up to 70 desperate students into a house.

However, his lucrative business may be under threat if a draft proposal by the City of Johannesburg to regulate communes and address slumlording is passed.

Dr Bagsagnani Sayyed Hoseini is involved with more than 80 houses in Auckland Park, Melville, Westdene, Brixton and Vrededorp areas. DA ward councillor Cindy Grobbelaar says Hoseini is not the only slumlord in those areas. Others own up to 20 houses and are raking in up to R18 000 a month per house.

According to an informal study done by Grobbelaar and residents in the area, there are around 84 illegal communes in the Westdene area alone. Horror stories include squashing 56 people into a 400sq m property in Fulham Road, Brixton, and setting people up in rooms as small as 6sq m each.

The Brixton woman has converted her 400sq m home into a 28-bedroom house, with two people sharing each room. Grobbelaar has labelled Hoseini as one of the worst slumlords, saying he has absolutely no regard for the law.In one house, he built rooms into a garage. In another there are illegal electricity cables.

One commune that the Saturday Star visited in Second Avenue, Westdene - owned by Hoseini - has 64 tiny rooms on the property. The large house has been built over two properties. Some of the rooms are so small that they allow only single mattress to fit in lengthways. The rooms have tiny windows shaped like the minarets of a mosque, which do not open. Room 29 downstairs has no windows, while another person is living in a room that has been converted from a shower cubicle. One of the students in the house says the room is still fully tiled like a bathroom.Single rooms are charged at between R1 600 and R1 700 while double bedrooms are R1 200 per person. Students at the commune complained about the conditions, saying it was not what they had signed up for. "It leaks when it rains. There are only two kitchens. It is horrible. We just have to survive," said one of the students, who spoke on condition of anonymity. An 18-year-old first-year student said she been shown a "nice" room in another house, and after she signed a contract, she was told that the room was taken and she had to go live in different house where the rooms were much smaller. The rooms are advertised as having DStv. But students said the DStv had been "scanning" for the past two months.

Hoseini was not available for comment as he is currently overseas. His wife, who took the Saturday Star's call and refused to give her first name, disputed that Hoseini was involved in so many houses.She initially said there were two houses in Collins Road, Brixton, and one in Caroline Street. Later in the conversation she said there were two in Caroline Street. She would not comment on how many rooms there were in the Westdene house.

Published on the web by Star on March 27, 2009.
© Star 2009. All rights reserved.

Verwarring oor sonering vir studente - Apr 30 2009 Beeld

Hettiën Strauss

Groot verwarring heers oor die twee voorgestelde stukke oor studentebehuising om aan die sowat 38 000 studente aan die Universiteit van Johannesburg (UJ) en die Universiteit van die Witwatersrand (Wits) huisvesting te bied.

Rdl. Cindy Grobbelaar sê naas die een konsepstuk van die Johannesburgse metroraad wat onlangs druk by die UJ bespreek is, is daar nou nog ’n voorstel – en dit verwar die inwoners.“In dié konsep (wat die UJ-omgewing insluit) word gebiede waar verdigting toegelaat word, as rooi sones bestempel.”

Grobbelaar sê heelwat sonerings is nie in ooreenstemming met die metroraad se plan vir stedelike en ruimte-like ontwikkeling vir dié woongebiede nie.

Rdl. Sharon Sabbagh sê dele van woonbuurte wat in die konsepbeleid in donkerrooi aangedui word, is vir sone 1-behuising, met ander woorde hoë studenteverdigting, geoormerk.In sone 2 word ’n huiseienaar toegelaat om tot drie studente of huurders te huisves, maar so ’n persoon moet ’n gesondheidsertifikaat besit. Die Melville-inwonersvereniging (MRA) het beswaar gemaak teen strate wat in die dokument genoem word, maar volgens die metroraad se stede-like-vernuwingsplanne uitgesluit word.

Die ruimtelike-ontwikkelingsplan laat nie studentebehuising in die aangrensende gebiede van Eerste Laan en Eerste Straat in Melville en Main-straat, Aucklandlaan, Kingsway, Twickenhamlaan, Cookhamweg, Universiteitsweg en die eiendomme tussen Dittonlaan en Chiselhurstrylaan in Auckland Park toe nie, maar dit word wel in die konsep geoormerk.

Die gebied in Auckland Park wat aan Streatleylaan, Mainweg en Lothburyweg grens, is wel geskik. Die MRA sê dit is nie duidelik watter eiendomme geraak word nie.Die deel wat grens aan Streatleylaan, Mainweg, Kingsway en Lothburyweg (Kampusplein) kan gesoneer word vir studentebehuising.

Sabbagh sê die MRA is bekommerd oor die rooi grenslyn wat regdeur Melville loop. Dit strek van Richmondstraat in Richmond tot by Vyfde Laan in Melville.Baie dele van die woonbuurte Ross- more en Brixton is geskik gevind vir dié soort behuising. So ook Perthstraat in Westdene. “Indien die metroraad en UJ samewerking van ons wil kry, sal hulle openlik met ons moet wees,” sê Sabbagh.

Blyplek naby UJ, Wits Kopseer - Beeld Maart 17 2009

Hettiën Strauss

Blyplek vir studente naby die universiteite van Johannesburg het 'n groot kopseer vir mense in die omliggende buurte geword.

Wanpraktyke rondom behuising het ontstaan weens 'n gebrek aan 'n amptelike beleid oor studentebehuising van die Johannesburgse metroraad. Raadslid Cindy Grobbelaar sê: "Inwoners wat reeds jare in woonbuurte soos Auckland Park, Melville, Westdene, Brixton en Rossmore woon, sê hulle woonbuurte word nou deur studente oorgeneem en oorstroom. "Dié inwoners is nie langer tevrede met die toenemende verkeersknope nie en is keelvol vir die oorbevolking van studentehuise, die gesondheidsrisiko wat dit meebring en die toenemende misdaadprobleem.

"Niemand het tydens die destydse samesmelting van die tersiêre inrigtings tred gehou met die groot getal studente wat gehuisves moet word nie. "Daar registreer nagenoeg 63 000 studente aan die UJ en Wits, maar die instansies bied slegs huisvesting aan sowat 15 000. "Daar is 'n groot leemte in regulasies oor waar behuising opgerig moet word, die hoogte van die geboue en of dit naby enige beplande busdiensroete is of nie.

Die beleid gaan vereis dat kommune-eienaars aan sekere voorwaardes moet voldoen. Cindy hoop die vereistes is streng genoeg en dat die metroraad die regulasies noukeurig sal toepas.

Die inwonersvereniging van Melville beplan om 'n vergadering oor die voorgestelde behuisingsbeleid op 25 Maart om 18:00 in die Melville Junction-kerk, op die hoek van 7de Laan en 5de Straat, Melville, te hou. Liza de Wet van die Melville-inwonersvereniging sê die inwoners se mening is vir hulle belangrik. "Gemeenskappe moet voor of op 6 April alle skriftelike kommentaar by die metroraad ingee. "Daar is voorlopige aanduidings dat 7de Straat, 4de Laan, Melville en dele van Auckland Park vir dié behuising geoormerk word. "