Hillbrow renters living in “curtain rooms”

Download PDF

There are cases where a single flat apartment in Hillbrow (Johannesburg) houses more tenants than is recommended. The apartments have one bedroom and a small spare room which are then occupied by renters. The bedroom and the spare room house two different renters, while the living room has been partitioned by curtains, making it possible for two renters to occupy the “curtain rooms”.

This arrangement is beneficial for the owner as they get more money, but it is stressful and unsafe for renters. There are no solid walls to protect their furniture. What’s more, there is no privacy. Visitors and renters from the other rooms can see through the curtains when going to the toilet, kitchen or going in and out of the apartment.

Hillbrow flats were renowned for their contemporary architecture. The apartments were designed for families and individuals. But most of the flats have not undergone any renovations in the last few decades while housing many more people in the same space.

For renters, some spend a third of their salaries on rent. They deserve proper walls and proper rooms and utilities. Putting more renters in flats is in itself not a bad thing, but what’s wrong is benefitting from property rentals without renovating and maintaining it.

Living in “curtain walls” is not the only challenge for renters. In Delft Court in Berea, like many other buildings in the area, the lifts are no longer operational. This is a stressful condition for people who have to climb the steps all the way to the 11th floor, for example. Often landlords starts neglecting fixing such things, and the building then starts to fall into a state of disrepair. And as long as the landlord fails to fix the lifts, chances are that they will also neglecting removing or doing away with the “curtain rooms”.

This article was submitted on 7 October 2020. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.

Previous Experiences of Lockdown in a Foreign City
Next Edenpark Park Clean Up