Not all short-term lets are unauthorised
The City of Cape Town’s development management officials operate on a complaints basis, and do not conduct random door-to-door checks, says Brett Herron, the city’s mayoral committee member for transport and urban development.
He will, however, request the department to look into allegations made by the citizen action group One Host One Home (Ohoh) once he receives “specific details of when these were reported, by whom, and where.”
“The city must and does act on complaints we receive.”
Herron emphasises that not all short-term lets are unauthorised, as the city’s municipal planning by-law does permit short-term letting in certain circumstances.
“Any property owner interested in undertaking short-term letting is advised to meet with their local development planning district office to discuss the applicable legislation and confirm any necessary authorisations.”
He says all complaints to the city are investigated, and, where evidence is found that the municipal planning by-law is being contravened, action is initiated. However, he emphasises that there has to be evidence available to enforcement officers to be able to proceed with such action.
“Short-term letting is an activity of a temporary duration. Also, the fact that a property is registered on a short-term letting platform is not evidence of a contravention of the by-law.”
Once the city has evidence of an alleged contravention, Herron says the first action is to issue a notice to the owner informing him/her to cease the activity or regularise the land-use activity. Should the owner ignore the warning/notice, and the activity is continued, the city will approach the municipal court for relief.
“I can confirm we have received applications for temporary land-use departures to regularise the land-use activity so the owner can legally do short-term letting from a flat, or series of flats.
“However, in terms of the municipal planning by-law, the city needs to consider an application for an administrative penalty by the transgressor.
“If a penalty is required, the transgressor must first pay the penalty before such land-use application can be considered by the development management department.”
Some cases have been heard by the city and administrative penalties have been prescribed for applicable transgressions, Herron says, adding that these cases are on appeal to the city’s executive mayor.
“Only once the process around the administrative penalty has been concluded can the city consider the application for a temporary land-use departure.”