Our side of the story

Cynthia Gower, Musgrave Park resident, Diep River

As a Musgrave Park senior resident, who has lived here for 15 years, I would like to tell our side of the story (“Investigate threatening evictions,” Bulletin, August 16).

My husband and I had our names down for five years before being accepted for Musgrave Park Retirement Complex. We came here knowing it was “independent living”, and we came here on an “open ended” lease.

It is true that Communicare didn’t call it an “old age home”, but surely “retirement complex” means much the same thing.

All was well up to about five years ago when Communicare decided to open up to all comers.

These units were built as bachelor units (bedroom and sitting room as a combined area, kitchen and bathroom) for single persons, and one-bedroom units (separate bedroom to sitting room, kitchen and bathroom) for couples.

Now you have couples with children living in bachelor units and larger families in one-bedroom units.

When the overcrowding in the units was pointed out to Communicare, we were told, “It’s our culture”.

Previously, we were expected to get permission for any family or visitors to stay overnight.

As for the programmes Communicare run for the tenants, we saw “Vulamathuba” once, just before Communicare closed our hall at Musgrave Park.

We had always had a committee and ran our own social programmes over the years.

Regarding the landscaping of gardens, and so on, there has been no sign of it. We would, however, like our lawns cut, as they haven’t been cut for the past three to four months and now look like a jungle.

Also, the meetings Communicare mentions were few and far between and very badly publicised.

Communication from Communicare is extremely inadequate.

I would like to comment that, except for the overcrowding issue, it is nice having children around, and we are all getting along fine, but we, the “seniors”, feel we would like written assurance from Communicare that our “open ended” leases will be continued.

* Anthea Houston, CEO of Communicare responds: Communicare has had many meetings with the residents at Musgrave Park over the last year regarding the development. This included sharing the plans for the demolition of the garages and hall. A new recreational facility will be built for tenants to use and for Vulamathuba, our social development arm, to run its various programmes. Detailed correspondence regarding the transfer of the property from Communicare to Goodfind Properties (100% owned and a subsidiary of Communicare) was sent to tenants and issues were discussed at the tenant meeting held in July, where we discussed the new development.

All our tenants are on month-to-month leases and during 2018 and 2019 we are asking them to enter into new fixed-term leases, as recommended by the Consumer Protection Act. We are doing this in phases and it has created some resistance.

Our tenants perceive the month-to-month lease as more secure than the fixed term leases – they don’t realise that their existing lease gives them less security as we have the right to give them one/two months’ notice.

Our interest in making this change is not only legal compliance, but it will also allow us to make sure that those having discounted rentals are the people who most need it.

We have developed a Frequently-Asked-Questions page on www.goodfindproperties.co.za to assist tenants with understanding these changes.