Your right to Emergency Housing

Sections in this chapter:


The City of Cape Town Municipality has a duty to provide emergency housing to anyone who will be made homeless by an eviction.‌

The City of Cape Town must be cited in all eviction applications and must produce a report on the availability of emergency alternative accommodation for those who qualify. ‌When served with papers, such as the Notice of Motion and Section 4(2) Notice, ensure that the City is cited. ‌If you do not see the municipality next to the word "respondent" then they have not been cited. If the City is not cited, your lawyer must cite them in the Opposing Affidavit, and serve both the City and your landlord. ‌

When serving these papers, be sure to include a letter stating you will be made homeless, as well as all relevant contact details so that they cannot claim they were not able to contact you.

The City does not always engage properly

Despite their duties and the regulations put in place to ensure that meaningful engagement takes place, the City of Cape Town Municipality does not always engage properly. This means you will have to follow up with them regularly and inform them of your rights and their duties.

Contact The City

Legal Services Department

021 400 2908

Housing Department

021 444 0333
Mon–Fri, 7:30AM–5PM

Meaningful engagement with the municipality

Once the City of Cape Town is part of the case, they must engage with you meaningfully to understand your circumstances and come to an agreement on suitable emergency housing.

The city is obliged to engage meaningfully with you once they are cited in your eviction case.

Despite this obligation, the city has been known to avoid meaningful engagement. If the City does not want to engage meaningfully with you, you must send them letters and call them to prove to the court that you made an effort to engage and it was the City who was not doing their job.

Steps the City should take

The municipality must contact you and arrange to meet

It is the municipality’s responsibility to contact you and arrange a meeting to discuss your eviction.

Send you a questionnaire

As part of understanding the details of your case, as well as your personal circumstances, the City must send you a questionnaire to complete, which outlines the important details of your situation.

Offer you accommodation

Based on your personal circumstances and level of need, the City should offer you suitable emergency accommodation.

Submit a report to the court

The City should submit a report in the form of an affidavit to the Court containing the following information:

  • Their duty to provide you with emergency accommodation.
  • Date and record of your engagement.
  • An offer of emergency accommodation, if you qualify.

Steps you should take

Any offer of emergency housing is guaranteed

You must understand that there is NO waiting list for emergency accommodation. If the City offers you accommodation, it is guaranteed and must be provided to you.

Keep a record of engagement

Be sure to keep a record of any engagement with the City. This includes letters, Emails, SMSs, and the dates and times of any phone calls or conversations etc. This information is always important to your case.

Reject any Relocation Camps

If the City only offers you a place in a relocation camp, such as Wolwerivier or Blikkiesdorp, you need to object to this during your engagement. It must be part of the record that you objected to the unsuitable living conditions. Ask them for a written response to any objections you make.

Currently, Cape Town only provides emergency housing in relocation camps. The Wolwerivier Camp is built on a farm more than a 30 km drive from the City center. It does not have adequate services such as schools, hospitals, regular public transport, or shops.

Ensure a report is filed

If the City has not filed a report you must ask the court to postpone the matter until they do. The court CANNOT make a decision without all the facts and the City’s report is vital to this.

Take Action

Ensure the city is cited

The City of Cape Town Municipality should be cited in ALL eviction cases. It is their job to understand your circumstances to see if you will be made homeless by an eviction.

If the City is cited:

Proceed to Step 2: Tell the city you will be made homeless

If the City is NOT cited:

Instruct your lawyer to cite the City of Cape Town in your Opposing Papers.

Tell the City you will be made homeless

Whether or not the City of Cape Town has been cited, you must inform them that you will be made homeless by your eviction. The City cannot ignore this information and must engage with you.

Object to unsuitable emergency housing

Wolwerevier and Blikkiesdorp are two relocation camps far outside of Cape Town. There are no schools, shops or clinics at these locations. If the City offers you accommodation at one of these sites, you must object and ask for a written response from the city.

Keep a record of all engagements

Always keep all records of any engagements with the City. Dates, times, and what was discussed/promised can be very important in court.

Make sure the city's report is accurate

After the City has assessed all options for emergency accommodation, they will submit a report to the court. You must ensure that the report accurately reflects your engagement with them. If the report is not accurate, your lawyer must report this to the court.

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Finding the right court