Family split after housing dispute

Zulfa Easton and her daughters Zahra, 10, and Azrah, 9, are now living in separate houses after they were evicted.

Former New Horizon resident Zulfa Easton has found herself without a home and separated from her children during the month of Ramadaan.

She had been made the dependent of her late aunt’s New Horizon RDP house three years ago but that was succesfully contested in court by her cousin and she was evicted on Wednesday June 1.

The City of Cape Town says this is a private matter between family members and they cannot help Ms Easton.

Benedicta van Minnen, the Mayco member for human settlements, said Farouz Abrahams registered on the housing database in November 1982.

“Ms Abrahams, however, passed away in June 2013. Subsequently, the keys for the house were handed to Ms Easton in October 2013 because she was listed as the dependent on Ms Abrahams’ application, which is a binding and legal agreement with the City of Cape Town.

“Ms Easton was informed that the property (RDP house) would not be registered in her name as legally the property needed to be registered in the estate of Farouz Abrahams. The Master of the Court then appointed Ms Abrahams’ son, as the executor of her estate. He contested the will and the matter went to court and the court ruled in his favour. The son then obtained an eviction order,” said Ms van Minnen.

But Ms Easton said the City didn’t ask any questions when Ms Abrahams made her the dependent . “My aunt told me that she will make me the dependent, and I walked with her to the housing office before she died. Unfortunately she died before she could move in and the City notified me to collect the keys. I also have all her documents, such as death certificate, title deeds. “

She said altough the City said it is a “private matter” they should have investigated to find out if there were other dependents.

“Now I am spending Ramadaan alone without my children, at someone else’s house.

“I was living in that house for three years, but now I moved in with a friend in Cape Town and my two daughters Zahra, 10, and Azrah, 9, are living with family in Lavender Hill. It is not nice to be away from them.”

Ms Easton is on the housing list but questions her chances of getting a replacement house.

Ms Van Minnen said she would have to wait her turn. “All housing opportunities are issued according to the Allocation Policy and applicable legislation. Therefore, Ms Easton, who registered on the housing database in September 2009, will be assisted in future in terms of the Allocation Policy, should she qualify.”

When asked what is the criteria for a beneficiary to get an RDP house, Ms van Minnen said: “One of the qualifying criteria for a housing subsidy is that the applicant must have proven financial dependents. This does not necessarily have to be only their offspring, but someone who is financially dependent on him/her.

“Once a beneficiary has an approved subsidy and has signed the Deed of Sale, the City will register the property in the beneficiary’s name and it will become their private property that is it becomes part of their estate.

“The onus is on the beneficiary to ensure that a will has been drawn up. The beneficiary’s will must state who will become the executor of the estate or in the absence of a will, the Master of the Court can make a decision regarding who will become the executor of the estate.

“The Master of the Court is the final authority on matters pertaining to an individual’s estate,” said Ms Van Minnen.

“Should Ms Abrahams’ son consider selling the house, he will have to request permission from the MEC for Human Settlements as usually the title deed for a subsidised house will state that the property may not be sold within the first eight years,” she said.

The Southern Mail also asked Ms van Minnen the following questions:

What is the criteria for a beneficiary to get an RDP house?

* Be a South African citizen or permanent resident

* 18 years and older and competent to contract

* Married or co-habiting

* Single with financial dependents

* Not have benefited from a housing subsidy before

* Have not owned property before

* Earn a monthly household income of between R0 and R3 500.

When can a beneficiary sell the house?

National legislation states that a beneficiary of a state-subsidised house (BNG house) may not sell the house within the first eight years of having received the house. This is also a condition within the title deed. If a beneficiary considers selling the house before the eight-year period, they may state their case to the MEC for Human Settlements who may waiver this condition based on the merit of the case.

The City’s Housing Allocations Policy states that approved beneficiaries shall not sub-let the property until the transfer of the property has been registered. If in breach, the City reserves the right to allocate and transfer the property to the next applicant on the database or to the person in occupation.