Investigate threatening evictions

Di Forrester, Westlake United Church Trust

I wonder if you could investigate Communicare’s plans for the development of two retirement homes, Dreyersdal Park and Musgrave Park, to general housing.

The state pensioners who have lived there for many years have informed us at Westlake United Church Trust (WUCT) that they have been threatened with eviction as Communicare has plans for development.

WUCT’s home-based care department works in partnership with the provincial Department of Health.

Our carers have been visiting and caring for elderly patients, some of whom are bedridden, at Dreyersdal Park and Musgrave Park, since 2006, as there are no frail-care or assisted-living facilities at those premises.

We also run regular chronic diseases of lifestyle support groups for people who have conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

We have been informed that we can no longer use the community halls due to Communicare’s future plans for development into general housing.

We are concerned for our patients (which number over 100) who are uncertain of their future.

We would appreciate it if you could look into this matter.

Anthea Houston, CEO of Communicare, responds:

Communicare does not have, nor previously had, any old-age homes. All our facilities are rental facilities for independent living.

In some complexes we reserve units specifically for seniors. For example, in Musgrave Park, we reserve about 30% of the units for seniors.

Units in Dreyersdal are not reserved for any particular age group. Despite this, since the need for seniors housing is so great, we have rented to much more than 30% seniors in both complexes.

Communicare offers programmes for our tenants through our social development arm, Vulamathuba. These include programmes to encourage active ageing among our elderly tenants.

Our social workers also screen elderly tenants for mental wellness and provide support to tenants.

We also work closely with various organisations that assist the elderly.

Since Communicare provides independent living rental accommodation, if a tenant is unable to care for themselves, our social workers assist them in contacting their next of kin to find a suitable alternative facility specialising in care for the elderly.

We have had many meetings with the residents at Musgrave Park over the last year regarding the development.

Our last meeting was in July where we explained the development plans and reiterated that this new development does not affect our lease agreements with the current tenants in any way.

As part of the development, we are upgrading the painting and exterior of all the buildings at Musgrave Park, repaving all the walkways, adding waterwise landscaping with benches and rest areas as well as a dedicated play area for the children.

Communicare is not undertaking any evictions or serving notice to tenants as part of the new development.

Our tenants have been told this at the various meetings we held with them.

Unfortunately, there are a few tenants who gossip and spread misinformation, causing panic and confusion among our older tenants.

All of our tenants are welcome to contact us directly with any concerns.

The term eviction gets used quite a lot and it may be helpful to clarify exactly what that means. Should a tenant breach their agreement with their landlord, the landlord (as per the Rental Housing Act) may give notice.

This could be for not paying rent, damage to property, illegal activities, etc. If a tenant doesn’t vacate after notice is given, the landlord would then proceed to the courts to ask for an eviction order.

An eviction order is granted by the courts if the magistrate ultimately decides if there are grounds for an eviction after due process has been followed. No landlord may evict any tenant in their own capacity.