People who sell or rent houses they received from the government will face criminal action if they do so outside the terms and conditions of receiving the home, the Western Cape government warned.
This is after the recent discovery that at least four beneficiaries of a new housing project in Forest Village in Cape Town had rented their homes out or tried to sell them.
New Human Settlements MEC Tertius Simmers warned people who are considering this that they may not sell a house handed over by the government for eight years.
They may also not rent it out or convert it into a spaza shop or business premises.
Simmers said that after eight years, if they want to sell, the government has the first option to buy back the house.
"Some people seem to forget this," Simmers said when he briefed the media after his first month in office.
App to be launched
He said people who do this cause great confusion and problems in communities where people are still waiting for houses.
He also implored people who are on a government housing waiting list to regularly update their contact details so that they can be tracked down.
To assist with this problem, the department is planning to launch an app soon and it will allow people who are on the housing list to check for progress on their housing applications.
People who cannot access an app can email firstname.lastname@example.org for queries and include their identity numbers and any other reference details they have.
Simmers said that in the last month the department had resolved 4 000 queries related to housing. He had also been criss-crossing the province to hear communities' problems first-hand and what set off protests.
The common thread, he said, was that communities were not being updated on progress or beneficiary details were not updated.
He said that selling or renting a house received from the government and then moving into an informal settlement also seemed to be an intentional move by some people to benefit again via planned shack settlement upgrades.
The department has also decided to prioritise "backyarders" who are waiting for houses, as well as the elderly, disabled, or single parents.
He also met the community leadership of Qolweni and New Horizon in the Plettenberg Bay area after recent protests there.
He called for "responsible citizenship" regarding housing, not only in terms of keeping contact details up to date and finding out what they may qualify for, but also to make sure that land set aside for housing projects is not invaded by people who do not qualify.
The long-awaited transfer of the Schulphoek plot in Hermanus for a massive housing development there is weeks away from being completed and work was under way in Hawston for a project there.
He reiterated a call that prime land within the City of Cape Town be released to the Western Cape's Department of Human Settlements.
He said the properties - Ysterplaat, Culemborg, Wingfield, Youngsfield and Denel-owned land - are all within middle-class suburbs and would be ideal for including black working class families into the city.
He said that when the DA took over control of the province in 2009, the premier was advised that an agreement to "alienate" these properties was not legal due to non-compliance with the provisions of the Western Cape Land Administration Act.
He called on the human settlements minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, to encourage Minister of Public Works Patricia de Lille, who is the former mayor of Cape Town, to release the five tracts.