People & News

Hijacked buildings

According to the Financial Mail, criminals in Johannesburg's inner city have realised that it's far more lucrative to hijack entire buildings and take over the monthly rental stream, leaving landlords and tenants watching helplessly, as they build up a very nice portfolio of rental properties and a healthy income stream. Generally such buildings are abandoned or poorly managed and the hijacker will not bother to fulfil any landlord obligations.

The modus operandi of a flat hijacker is surprisingly simple and effective. Hijackers can be outsiders or even opportunistic tenants. First, they call a meeting of the tenants and bad-mouth the landlord to sow dissension. Then they trash the building and highlight the laxity of the property manager.

Owners can't even get into the buildings because the hijackers station their own security teams at the entrances. To compound their misery owners are still held responsible for the municipal arrears. It seems that the best steps landlords can take to prevent their buildings from falling prey to urban hijackers is to develop a good relationship with their tenants and to maintain physical control of the building.

Financial Mail (subscription needed)

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