In 2015, a first effort to find a house took David to Delft, a large township in Cape Town, not far from Khayelitsha, and about 33 kilometres from where David works, in Camps Bay. The township comprises roughly 28 000 formally registered houses, most of which were built as part of the government’s national housing subsidy scheme. While the state imposes an 8-year resale restriction on government-subsidised houses, many of the houses in Delft are older than eight years, and are therefore eligible for sale. House prices are generally lower than in Khayelitsha and there are more properties for sale in that area.
First try: David looked at about five or six houses in Delft but while the prices seemed affordable, none were available for legal purchase: either the name of the person on the title deed was not the same name as the person who was trying to sell the house, or the house was still subject to the eight year restrictive clause in the title deed. So, David decided to buy a shack and fix it up a bit. His previous shack had burned down. While he lost everything he owned, his wife and children were not hurt. But he was scared of fires and worried there would be another one.
Second try: a few months later, David again considered the possibility of buying a house. A parent at the school called up her contacts – informal estate agents around Delft and Khayelitsha, and David again went shopping for a house. He found a BNG house – far nicer than the standard RDP house. The house had been built in 2010 and so there was the restrictive clause on the title deed, preventing sale until 2018. David learned however, that in certain cases he could apply for a waiver. The title deed was in the name of the seller’s mother, who was on her deathbed in the Eastern Cape. The seller had neither power of attorney nor a will to assert her rights to sell the property. A formal sale looked very difficult.
A second house also had a restrictive clause on the title deed, but was at least in the name of the seller. The seller could apply for a waiver from the Province on its pre-emptive right to purchase the property, but this is only granted when the seller can demonstrate a feasible plan with regard to accessing a subsequent housing opportunity. In this case, the seller did not have housing plans: he wanted to buy a car.
A few days later, David heard about another house for sale in the neighbourhood of one of his colleagues at work, but by the time he got hold of the owner, the house had been sold; to pay for a funeral.
Eventually, David lost hope of finding a house. He bought a car for R50 000. He borrowed R25 000 from a bank, and R25 000 from family to pay for it. It was an old pick-up truck in terrible condition. He sold it a few months later, and finished paying off the loan in full and on time.
Third try: Then in August 2016 David found a house in Site B, Khayelitsha. He drove with his employer to the house, and she filmed it so he could show the bank. It was a two-bedroomed house on a small stand, with the toilet and tap outside the house. The pre-emptive clause had lapsed, but the owner of the house had died without a will. The seller was the owner’s only daughter, the common law wife of the man who was showing the house. She wanted R140 000 for the house.