18 September 2023
The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) has agreed to pay the landlord of a student residence in Long Street the capped annual limit to house its students in the city centre.
About a month ago, the owner of 210 Long Street kicked out 360 CPUT students from his buildings, claiming that he was owed millions of rands in outstanding rent. Following negotiations, the students were allowed back into the building later the same evening.
At the time, CPUT management told GroundUp that the buildings failed to meet the minimum standards of a residence fully accredited by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). NSFAS previously allowed students to stay in private residences that cost up to R5,900 per student month. This amount was decreased in 2023 when the funding scheme introduced a R45,000 annual limit on accommodation allowances per student.
NSFAS issued guidelines stipulating that private accommodation should provide, among other things, suitable areas for cooking, storing food, a four-burner stove per eight students, a microwave oven, and lockable cupboard.
The 210 Long Street building currently does not meet all of these requirements.
During a recent visit to the residence, GroundUp saw several very bare rooms, with no storage space and dirty windows. Some bathroom doors were broken, and other rooms looked like refurbishment was underway as the paint on the walls looked incomplete.
According to NSFAS, a double room should have enough space to comfortably accommodate two people and must have study desks with night lamps. All the rooms we saw at 210 Long Street were very small for two people to share. There were no desks or table lamps besides the main room light. Most of the students said they had to keep their clothes in suitcases or stack them on the floor.
Some of the rooms have small bar fridges. The student said that the fridges were given on a first-come-first-served basis.
The building has one large kitchen with one four-plate stove and two sinks which are shared by about 90 students who are currently living there. NSFAS requires one stove with four plates be made available per every eight to nine students.
The laundry area had two washing machines and one dryer, but only one of the washing machines was working on the day we visited. Students told us that they have to take turns to hang their laundry on three short washing lines.
On safety, NSFAS guidelines requires fire detection and prevention measures throughout the residences. The student said that they have never seen fire extinguishers in the building.
CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley had said that since 210 Long Street was not a fully accredited residence, the landlord was only eligible for about R41,200 per student.
But Kansley later confirmed that CPUT had agreed to pay the landlord a higher amount, though the building did not meet minimum requirements. “CPUT agreed to up the amount to R45,000 which is the cost of an accredited residence. This is because of the number of students affected.”
The owner of 210 Long Street has not responded to any of our questions and phone calls.