As Balwin Properties will tell you, there are always two sides to every story – and the development kingpins have come out fighting, following allegations levelled against them over the weekend. A row about how certain guests are using the famous ‘manmade lagoon’ at the Blyde complex has boiled over big time in Pretoria…
On Sunday, a group of short-term letters – using properties at The Blyde to rent out to others – claimed they were being treated unfairly, after Balwin representatives proposed a new set of measures to manage the development.
They included increasing admission fees for short-term guests hoping to use the lagoon – colloquially dubbed as ‘Pretoria Beach’ – and discussions were also held about hiking levies for property owners who rent out their pads.
In a right of reply sent to TheSouthAfrican on Monday, Balwin explained the reasoning for their stance, stating that long-term residents have complained about ‘frequent overcrowding’ and ‘a lack of security’ at the facility.
“The lagoon and lifestyle centre at The Blyde has been developed first and foremost for the recreation and enjoyment of homeowners in a law-abiding family environment. There are approximately 200 short-term rental apartments and over 900 owner-occupied or long-term rented apartments.”
“The HoA has a duty towards all homeowners and it must consider the best interests of The Blyde. Since 2018, the permanent residents residing at The Blyde have sent numerous complaints to the HoA in relation to short-term letting within The Blyde due to the unruly conduct that has become the norm.”
“Balwin has been inundated with complaints from residents regarding overcrowding of the lagoon area by guests from short-term letting apartments as well as the fact that residents do not feel safe and secure within the development – which is of great concern for all stakeholders.” | Balwin statement
Their grievances don’t end there, however. After conducting a brief probe, the property group discovered a set of ‘gross, systemic abuses’ of the access code protocol – including illegal sales of visitor access codes, and even instances of ‘unlawful short term letting’. Balwin argue that they were left with little choice but to react promptly:
“The HoA and Balwin investigated the matter further and found a gross systemic abuse of the access code system, and instances of illegal short-term letting of apartments as well as the illegal sale of visitor access codes.”
“The abuse led to unabated access to the development by guests staying at short-term rental apartments, creating serious health, safety, and security concerns. The HoA held an urgent meeting and addressed these issues.”
“We therefore resolved to reduce the number of visitor access codes and number of guests per apartment allowed in the lagoon area – whereas all permanent residents and long term tenants will be allowed to access the lagoon area at no charge. But the access fee for all visitors/guests/short-term guests was increased from R100 to R250.”
It’s worth noting that Homeowners and long-term tenants – with a lease of more than three months – have free access to the lagoon area – and have never been charged for access, either.
On 11 October 2021, homeowners will get the chance to vote on whether they want to allow short-term letting or prohibit short-term letting at The Blyde – and the result could drastically limit the number of visitors who frequent the lagoon.