Student Accommodation Is A Good Way To Earn Extra Income But Beware Of Zoning Restrictions

With the ever increasing established need for student accommodation and the ability for homeowners to create an additional income by letting out rooms, there are some constraints that need to be considered, says Lanice Steward, managing director for Knight Frank Anne Porter. 

According to the latest STBB news, Stellenbosch Municipality v Van Wyk and Others, it was held that she contravened zoning provisions by letting the rooms out to students.

Although it can be deemed to be an easy route to earn money, do it within the law, she said.

In this matter, the property zoning for this area only allows a dwelling to be occupied by one family. Stellenbosch Municipality in this case applied for an interdict preventing Ms van Wyk from renting her residential property, stating she was in contravention of the applicable zoning.

Ms van Wyk lived in the home with her two daughters, she also rented the remainder of the home to seven students, which her neighbours complained about. The municipality, after carrying out an inspection, issued a letter advising her that she was contravening the zoning laws of that area. She then lodged a “special development rights” application, which would allow for four additional people to live in the home.

While waiting for the special development rights and after the municipality had sent Mrs van Wyk another letter asking her to stop her rental activity, they then applied to the courts for an interdict prohibiting her illegal activity. Her special development rights application had subsequently failed as well.

Although Mrs van Wyk used the argument in court that there was a shortage of student accommodation and appealed for the court to use its discretion in this case, they found in favour of the municipality as she was acting illegally. The courts could not be seen as condoning criminal behaviour and that the neighbours’ complaints showed that their property rights were impinged upon.

“This is a serious matter as there are many people in Cape Town who have indeed turned their homes into student accommodation instead of renting their property out to one family. It is best to check on the zoning of your property first before you go ahead and sign leases to rent your property out to students,” she said.

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