Lights off for tenants unable to pay their rent

The body corporate has allegedly switched off the lights on those who have not paid rent
The body corporate has allegedly switched off the lights on those who have not paid rent
Image: 123RF/andiafaith

A body corporate in Midrand, Johannesburg, has threatened to handover its tenants to the credit bureau for failing to pay rent during the national lockdown.

The affected tenants of San Ridge Heights claim they were unable to pay rent this month due to loss of income as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the tenants, they have been living in the dark after a caretaker switched off their power supply.

The tenants said when the lockdown was announced, they communicated with the body corporate about their situation, but instead their electricity was cut off.

In a letter that was sent to all tenants on Friday that Sowetan has seen, the body corporate stated that failing to honour rental obligations would impact negatively on their credit record.

The letter reads: "We acknowledge the impact that the lockdown has on tenants and realise that many people might lose their jobs or part of their income and find it difficult to meet all their obligations during this time. Please note that should you fail to honour your monthly rental commitment, it will have a negative impact on your credit record."

Ward councillor Lerato Mphefo said she was aware of the tenants' predicament and has interacted with caretaker Adriaan Louw on switching off power.

"... I told Adriaan that it was wrong to switch off the lights for people because they owed. Since it is a private-owned property, they should find an amicable solution. What I know is that there are no evictions during lockdown."

One of the tenants, who spoke to Sowetan on condition of anonymity, said Louw has been harassing him by switching off the power.

"My issue has to do with the bank and not with them. But instead of understanding my situation, they switched off my lights. I have tried to speak to Adriaan but he has been rude; he even blocked me.

"As I'm speaking to you, I have to go somewhere to take a bath and cook to eat."

Louw denied that they were cutting power for tenants.

He said: "Since we do not know who the tenant is who contacted you, we are unable to investigate the matter to determine what exactly happened.

"The letter we sent to our tenants [was] to implore them to keep paying their rent during this time, and we are not evicting any tenants during the lockdown... Unfortunately, we are not a financial service provider and as a private business we cannot absorb all our tenants' financial losses. It will ruin our business."

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