Answer to a question from a reader

Can someone be given an RDP house if the dependent is registered for two RDP houses?

The short answer

It is illegal for a family to own more than one RDP house.

The whole question

In 2009 my mother was looking for a house. After speaking to the street committee and the ward councillor, she received permission to occupy a vacant RDP house. The owner had passed away and there was no family located in the house. There was a letter given to my mother by the ward councillor. My mother has since built a house on the property, as the RDP was worn down and falling apart.  Earlier this year the councillor gave her a letter to take to the municipality in order for her to become the owner of the RDP.

But then she found out there was a child registered as a dependent on the RDP. We have since located the child and he lives on the same street as my mother. They never said anything about the RDP to my mother, even when she was renovating the house. 

The child that is registered as a dependent on the RDP is also registered as a dependent on his parents place. The child was registered for the purpose of obtaining the RDP for the deceased, as he did not have a family.

What can she do in her situation? Can she be awarded the place on the grounds that the dependent is registered as a dependent for more than one property?

The long answer

Thank you for your email asking if your mother can be awarded the vacant RDP property the ward councillor had allowed her to occupy after the owner died and no family members were found, now that the municipality has found that a child was registered as a dependant for the RDP by the deceased owner, and you have been told that the same child is registered as a dependent for the RDP house in which he lives with his parents - in the same street where your mother lives. 

If the deceased did not have a will, the provincial housing department will allow the dependent listed to stay in the house until he can get a property of his own. But the registered dependent has never stayed in the house as he lives with his parents in their house. So it would seem that the child’s claim is not a strong one, and in any case it is illegal for a family to own more than one RDP house.

When an application is made for an RDP house, the person or the couple making the application have to hand certified copies of their dependents’ birth certificates in to the municipal office. The municipality therefore can check whether a birth certificate for the same child has been used in another RDP application by another RDP beneficiary.

It would be fraudulent to register the same child as a dependent for a different RDP house.  Fraud is defined in law (“Criminal Law” by Snyman CR) as follows: "Fraud is the unlawful and intentional making of a misrepresentation which causes actual prejudice or which is potentially prejudicial to another". In this case, it is potentially prejudicial (harmful) to your mother’s chances of getting the RDP house in her name.

If the deceased had no children and “borrowed” the child’s birth certificate in order to qualify for the RDP application, that would be fraudulent, but it also raises the question of how the deceased obtained the birth certificate. It sounds as if it could only have been with the cooperation of the child’s parents? But the child’s mother is friends with your mother, and has never mentioned anything about it, so that is strange too.  Your mother might want to approach her friend and ask her about it. It is always advisable to try and talk through a problem honestly, before it turns into something ugly.

Your mother could ask the municipality to check whether the same birth certificate has been used for both RDP applications. Once she knows, she could ask the municipality to assist her to have the RDP transferred to her name. If the municipality is not helpful, she could refer the matter to the MEC of housing in her province and ask him to assist. The MEC in each province has the right to look into individual cases and decide what should be done.

Your mother could also ask for advice and help from a paralegal organisation like the Black Sash, or from lawyers at Legal Aid. Legal Aid is a means-tested organisation.

Their contact details are:

  • To find the contact details of the Housing MEC in your province: 

Housing Enquiries Hotline: 0800 146 873

  • Black Sash:

Helpline for free paralegal advice: 072 663 3739

  • Legal Aid:

[email protected] (link sends email)

Legal Aid Advice Line (Toll-free): 0800 110 110

Please-Call-Me number: 079 835 7179.

Answered on Aug. 14, 2020, 12:40 p.m.

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Please note. We are not lawyers or financial advisors. We do our best to make the answers accurate, but we cannot accept any legal liability if there are errors.