Following the inception of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) by the government of Nelson Mandela in 1994, the South African government has been providing low-income families with government-subsidized houses for over two decades now. These houses, otherwise known as RDP houses, are fully built by the government and are given to the beneficiaries for free. Through the years, the Department of Human Settlements (DHS) has delivered about three million subsidized houses to South African citizens who are financially handicapped.
Nonetheless, the program’s initiative to achieve poverty alleviation is being slightly hampered by the processing as millions of people are on the waiting list for the RDP housing subsidy. With that in mind, we have outlined in this article some guidelines on how to check the status of your RDP housing subsidy, to know how far you have gone on the waiting list. This can be achieved online and equally by visiting the provincial offices of the Department of Human Settlements or municipal offices. But before getting to that, let’s briefly delve into the full concept of the government housing subsidy and what qualifies one to apply for the subsidized houses.
What are RDP Houses?
RDP houses are houses given by the South African government to the beneficiaries of the Subsidised Housing programme. The programme affords a beneficiary to acquire a home through a government subsidy. This Subsidised Housing programme was initiated as part of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) in 1994. The programme aimed to address the immense socio-economic problems brought about by the apartheid era. And also to sort out the shortfalls of the government in social services across the nation by allocating tax money for development projects, which in turn would boost the economy of the country.
The most severe social problems the Reconstruction and Development Programme has addressed over the last few years include housing, healthcare, electrification, clean water, land reform, and public works. In 2001, the housing subsidy achieved a milestone of providing more than 1.1 million government-subsidized houses to about 5 million people out of the estimated 12.5 million South Africans who were without proper housing at the time. Currently, the Department of Human Settlements has built about three million houses which have benefitted almost 20 million people.
In 2019, the analysis showed that the percentage of households that have received government housing subsidies grew from 5.6 percent in 2002 to 18.7 percent. It was also found out that female-headed households had a higher percentage of received subsidies (23.1 percent) than the male-headed households with a rate of 15.5 percent. Therefore, the results of the analysis comply with the government policies that give preference to households headed by individuals from vulnerable groups, including females and persons with disabilities.
It’s noteworthy that when it comes to the allocation of RDP houses, South African citizens who are physically handicapped would get preference, and their houses are to be built in a way that accommodates their special needs.
Who Qualifies for an RDP House?
Even though the Housing Subsidy programme has been met with lots of obstacles, including widespread corruption, the government has continued to work towards the rapid replacement of the shacks that are normally found in the townships to provide low-income families, as well as homeless families and people with disabilities with a certain quality of life. For one to apply for a government-subsidized house, there are certain requirements, known as the National Housing Subsidy Scheme criteria that must be met, and they are listed below;
Applicants of an RDP house must be:
- A South African citizen or in possession of a permanent residence permit.
- A first-time government subsidy recipient
- Earning a monthly income that is less than R3,500 per household. This implies that the combined monthly income of a two-person household shouldn’t exceed R3,500.
- 21 years or older
- Mentally sound to sign a contract.
- Qualified to purchase a vacant service site and not to have owned a fixed residential property.
- Married or living with a partner or single and have dependants (children must not necessarily be your own)
Note: Elderly and military veterans who are single and without financial dependant are qualified to apply for an RDP house.
Step-by-Step Guide on How to Apply For an RDP House
Applications for a government housing subsidy can be made at physical points like the Provincial Department of Human Settlements and local municipality offices. RDP house can also be applied for online. Whichever way you choose to apply, ensure that the essential documents needed for the application are ready. These documents include:
- Identity documents of the applicants and their spouses
- Proof of income if working (salary slip)
- Birth certificate of children
- Affidavit proof for an extended family member
The processes involved for application at the offices are outlined below;
STEP 1: Completely fill a housing subsidy application form.
STEP 2: Depending on your province, you will be registered to the National Housing Needs Register or the Municipal Housing Demands Database by successfully completing the application form.
STEP 3: After the registration, which puts your name on the waiting list, you will be issued a Form C that indicates your application number and date of application.
STEP 4: Make a copy of the form and keep it safe as the details it contains are very important for checking RDP housing status.
RDP House Online Application
STEP 1: Log in to the Housing Subsidy portal
STEP 2: Register for a user account if you don’t have one, but if you already have an existing account, you can log in with your email address and password.
STEP 3: Select a new application form and fill in the relevant details.
STEP 4: Verify the details and submit.
What to do If Your RDP House Application is Rejected
Perhaps you filled out an RDP house application form, and your request is rejected for unexplainable reasons. You don’t have to panic as there is a way out. The easy way to go about it is to reach out to the Member of Executive Council (MEC) of Human Settlements in your province for clarification and direction.
How to Check Your RDP House Application Status Online
After your RDP house application process is successful, you will then have to check whether your name appears on the provincial housing waiting list. This should be carried out at intervals, and once your name appears on the list, the process has begun. The process, however, can take several months or years. As a result, you should keep on checking on the progress made with your housing subsidy. But once the house is ready for occupancy, the Department of Human Settlements will reach out to you, and you will get to sign a happy letter and equally be provided with the title deed and house keys.
There are four options for checking the RDP house status, and they include:
Option 1: Log in to the Housing Subsidy portal (If you are registered on the provincial housing database). Then enter your ID number to check the status of your housing subsidy.
Option 2: Visit the Housing Provincial office nearest to you with your Form C for them to confirm where you are on the waiting list.
Option 3: Send an SMS to 44108, typing your ID number. You will shortly receive a reply indicating the status of your housing subsidy and the necessary things to do (if any).
Option 4: Contact the Department of Human Settlements via this toll-free number; 0800 146 873 / 012 421 1915 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: Ensure that you notify the Department of Housing Settlements when there are changes in your personal information. They include residential address, postal address, working status (if you lose your job or find a job), health status (e.g., disability), and family changes (e.g., additional dependants).
Where are RDP Houses Located?
RDP houses are located in the country’s nine provinces―Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, and Western Cape. These houses are built in several cities under these provinces. For instance, the RDP housing settlement in Braamfischerville, Soweto, is located on the border between Soweto and Roodepoort, which is still part of Soweto.
Note: Though the government gives the RDP houses for free, the beneficiaries must pay for all municipal rates, which may include water and electricity or other service surcharges.
Frequently Asked Questions About RDP Houses
Here are the answers to some of the questions about the government housing subsidy programme, otherwise known as RDP houses.
Are councilors still in charge of the allocation of RDP houses?
Due to the allegations that councilors were allocating RDP houses to certain preferred individuals, the role was handed over solely to the Department of Human Settlements officials and equally to the local authorities. As such, councilors presently have no role in allocating government-subsidized houses.
How much does an RDP house cost?
The cost of building an RDP house differs from province to province. For instance, the estimated cost of constructing a single unit in Limpopo ranges from R172,853 to R228,914 whereas, in Eastern Cape, the estimated cost ranges from R170,000 to R190,000.
What’s the difference between RDP and BNG?
The Department of Human Settlements recently updated the RDP housing subsidy programme and is now called “Breaking New Ground” or BNG. The difference between the two is that the new housing plan improves the quality of people’s lives by providing clinics, schools, and shops. Additionally, BNG houses would be large than RDP houses as they will consist of two bedrooms, a combined kitchen and living room area, a separate bathroom with a toilet, shower, and hand basin.
Is it illegal to sell an RDP house?
Based on the Housing Act 107 of 1997, an RDP house beneficiary is not entitled to sell the house within the first eight years of taking occupancy. It is not only illegal to sell an RDP house within the first eight years, but it is also illegal to rent out the house as well. However, if after eight years, the beneficiary wishes to sell the house, then the government has the first option to buy, to allocate it to an individual on the government housing waiting list.
Can I buy an RDP house?
If you are interested in buying an RDP house, you should ensure that the house is not subject to restrictive conditions by the housing department. Also, ensure that the seller has obtained permission from the Department of Human Settlements and has a title deed. Nonetheless, if you buy an RDP house within the first eight years it was issued, changing the house’s title deed won’t be an easy process.
Can an RDP house be repossessed?
With an RDP house belonging to the whole family and not to an individual, the Department of Human Settlements has spoken out against banks auctioning government-subsidized houses to settle short-term debts. The department also advised RDP beneficiaries against using the RDP houses as collateral or security for short-term loans; instead, they should value their houses and preserve them for future generations.
How long must I wait on the waiting list for a housing subsidy?
Depending on the municipality, the waiting period differs. Nonetheless, you must note that housing development takes at least two years to be completed in a new area and be ready for occupation.
If My husband and I received a housing subsidy and are now divorced, can I get another RDP house?
Normally, marriage annulment comes with dividing assets based on mutual agreement or court order. However, if you did not receive a benefit from the property when the marriage was annulled, you can reach out to the MEC, who would investigate the case, ensuring that you have lost everything. Afterward, the MEC may decide to give you another housing subsidy should you qualify in all other aspects.
If the RDP house beneficiary passes away, what happens to the house?
Legitimate beneficiaries of RDP houses with title deeds have been advised to state the house in their Will, declaring who would inherit it when they pass away, as the objective of the housing subsidy is to keep the houses in the family. However, if a deceased beneficiary had no Will at the time of their demise, the provincial Housing Department holds a record of the dependants listed by the beneficiary, and they will be entitled to live in the house until they are financially stable to acquire properties.
How do I transfer ownership of an RDP house?
Suppose, after living in the RDP house for eight years, you wish to sell your house, thereby transferring the ownership deed to another individual. In that case, you will need to ensure that the sale is made legally, and lawyers known as conveyancers are meant to handle the process as they are qualified to handle deeds of transfer.