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Errant Cape Town Airbnb apartment owners could end up with criminal records

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Cape Town property owners who ignore a 30-day compliance notice to stop holiday/transient guest letting without approval of city authorities as required under the Municipal Planning By-law 2015 could be found guilty in the municipal court of a criminal offence, says Councillor Brett Herron, Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development.

“Complaints have been received from ratepayers along the Atlantic Seaboard and these complaints are in the preliminary stages of investigation,” he told HomeTimes. “No formal enforcement action has been taken as yet by the City’s Development Management Department.”

Matters pertaining to transgressors “will be processed through the city’s legal department via the municipal court for a determination of a penalty as non-compliance with the Municipal Planning By-law 2015 is a criminal offence. Fines are determined by the magistrate”.

“The Land Use Enforcement Section follows a tried and tested methodology that has proven to be highly successful in ensuring compliance with the Development Management Scheme of the City of Cape Town,” said Herron. “Land use enforcement will react to and investigate complaints lodged with the City’s Development Management Department.”

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He gave the assurance that the City’s Development Management Department “will act on all transgressors once we become aware of their activities through complaints or proactive enforcement action undertaken by the land use and building development sections”.

Asked if the city could provide an estimate of how many apartments in Cape Town are being let to holidaymakers/transient guests without the apartment owners having received the go-ahead from the city as per the Municipal Planning by-law 2015, Clr Herron said such information was not available at present.

“This information would be based on the outcome of complaints that have been investigated,” he said. “As the complaints that have been received are in the preliminary stages of investigation, no formal enforcement action has taken place as yet.”

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Opponents of holiday/transient guest letting in residential apartment blocks claim that apartments kept empty, solely for the purpose of such letting, drastically reduces the availability of long-term rental stock for permanent residents, forces them to rent apartments far from workplaces in the city and drives up rental costs.

Permanent residents of apartment blocks in which illegal holiday/transient guest letting is taking place say they are put at risk by the constant flow of strangers into high security blocks while they pay large sums to keep out strangers, and their apartment blocks do not have the necessary levels of fire and safety infrastructure required by law.

Words: Blake Wilkins


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