Students slam Auckland Park private digs

Residents contend with crumbling buildings, leaking roofs, infestations and absent, uncaring landlords.

Students staying at Auckland Park private residences are complaining that the landlords continually increase rent while not maintaining the residences. 

Complaints about My Student Pad, Accommodation For Students and 2 Mortlake student accommodation include that there is mould on the walls, toilets are leaking and there are insect infestations.  

From the outside, My Student Pad appears as if in a good condition, but from the back, the paint is flaking from the walls. Accommodation For Students looks neglected and its small garden is full of litter. The 2 Mortlake building looks bright with orange paint, but inside the toilets and taps are leaking, and the roof leaks when it rains. 

My Student Pad is owned by Boingotlo Tlale. She told Wits Vuvuzela that rent for single rooms ranges from R3 700 to R4 200 and for shared rooms from R2 700 to R3 500 per person, with an increase of R50 every year. Tlale said that as a property owner, she always has someone on call to manage maintenance and that the only problem she has is that some maintenance work is delayed because students do not pay their rent on time. 

However, Wits first-year bachelor of arts student Phenyo Mthombothi said that My Student Pad is not value for money and the rent does not match the condition of the rooms and the lack of service provided.  

The paint is flaking off the walls of My Student Pad student accommodation in Auckland Park. Photo: Nonkululeko Mncube

“The place is poorly managed and cleaned only once or twice a week. The floors are dirty, with mould on the walls, and the house has an unpleasant smell,” said Mthombothi, who added that she reports maintenance issues every week over the phone because the caretaker is rarely present, and “the owner never shows up”.  

When presented with this accusation by Wits Vuvuzela Tlale dismissed the query, saying, “I am busy.” 

A caretaker at one of the Auckland Park student residences who did not want to be identified, told Wits Vuvuzela that, “It is challenging for me to fix anything without funding and equipment. Also, there is no easy access to the landlord.”  

Mathaare Kganakga, a Wits student studying BSc in mining engineering, who resides at 2 Mortlake said that there had been numerous complaints to the caretaker about the leaking toilets and crawling insects. 

“I pay R4 000 per month and I cannot say I am satisfied with this place, but it is the only accommodation I can afford. Wits residences are expensive,” Kganakga said.  

The students said the Auckland Park private accommodation is inferior to that of South Point whose website boasts of safe, clean, convenient and affordable 15 buildings around Johannesburg, some of them right across the street from Wits in Braamfontein. Single rooms cost R4 038, and double and triples from R3 868 per person.  

“[Unfortunately] South Point was full by the beginning of February. I could not book a room, and their rooms are clean and well maintained,” said Kganakga. He added that students without bursaries or scholarships are condemned to stay in the dilapidated private accommodation in Auckland Park as it is more affordable. 

Wits Vuvuzela reached out by phone to the owner of 2 Mortlake who goes by the name ‘Yusuf’ but he refused to be interviewed, saying “I cannot help you with that information.”  

FEATURED IMAGE: The unnamed Accommodation For Students looks neglected and its small garden is full of litter. Photo: Nonkululeko Mncube

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UJ dumps South Point

By Phumi Ramalepe

NSFAS students sign petition for university to reconsider decision.

The University of Johannesburg has rejected South Point’s 2019 accreditation application after the property company failed to fulfil certain requirements by the university’s policy on privately-owned accommodation.

The policy stipulates that, “Rooms should be furnished with lockable closets, single bed steel or wooden frames including mattress/sponge, study desk, chair, bookshelf, study lamp, panel heater and paper bin.”

The policy further states that the kitchen of each ‘Subscribing Service Provider’ should have “a minimum provision of cold storage, 210 litres per five students”.

After the 2019 inspection, the two Braamfontein South Point buildings (Norvic and KSI) previously accredited by U J since 2004 were deemed not to meet the requirements due to the absence of panel heaters and fridges.   

Executive Head of Precinct Development at South Point, Josef Talotta, told Wits Vuvuzela that, “In 2011, [UJ] gazetted new norms and standard criteria (introducing communal refrigerators and panel heaters) for its accreditation partners…we were not accredited for 2019, in spite of previous approvals against the same criteria.”

Last year, South Point “housed approximately 450 students as a UJ-accredited housing provider”, according to Talotta.

Some of those students circulated a petition last week to have UJ reconsider its decision not to accredit South Point. By January 31, the petition had garnered 90 signatures.   

Mpho Stephen, a third-year LLB student who has been staying at South Point for two years said, “I helped distribute the petition because we want a place to stay. We are also trying to tell [UJ] our story. Everybody has a right to be heard,” said Stephen.

UJ students who are funded by NSFAS say they are dismayed by UJ’s decision as they did not have to pay for top-ups and a deposit at South Point before signing their leases.

“I went to J1 (a private accommodation property in Braamfontein) and there is space but…now I have to pay R3 750 for deposit. Imagine the strain I have to put on my parents. I wouldn’t have to pay for deposit at South Point while on NSFAS,” said Mpho Khosa, a third-year Film and Television student at UJ.

South Point is appealing UJ’s decision, according to Talotta.