Johannesburg residents who want to convert their homes into accommodation establishments or have bought properties to run such businesses are required to abide by applicable laws and regulations.
Accommodation establishments in Johannesburg are regulated under Chapter 10 of a by-law that deals with public health laws.
The main purpose of this by-law is to ensure that “premises are situated, designed, constructed and equipped to prevent a health hazard through the contamination of foodstuffs, that food can be hygienically prepared or handled and that these premises provide appropriate facilities to accommodate people for gain”.
Region F has the highest number of accommodation establishments in Johannesburg – a total of 268 – according to Corrie Bezuidenhout of the City’s Environmental Health Department.
Region F covers areas such as the Johannesburg inner city, Hillbrow, Braamfontein, Joubert Park, Yeoville, Bertrams, Berea, Fordsburg, Rosettenville, Turffontein, Jeppestown and Denver.
These establishments include guest and boarding houses, bed & breakfast and student accommodation, hotels and lodges. Residents and business owners who want to run accommodation establishments need to apply for a permit in terms of Section 61 of public health by-law.
“What this means is that no person may operate an accommodation establishment without the necessary permit,” says Bezuidenhout.
“This permit will only be issued when the establishment has complied with the requirements as outlined in Section 62 of Chapter 10 of the by-law.”
The requirements to be complied with include providing:
- An area for the preparation of food;
- The number of persons to be accommodated;
- Adequate ventilation and illumination;
- Wash-up facilities;
- Rodent control and prevention of flies and insects measures;
- Waste water disposal system;
- Hand-washing facilities;
- Sanitary and toilet fixtures;
- Hygienic storage space for food and equipment;
- Adequate supply of water; and
- Ventilation of toilet facilities.
Bezuidenhout says Environmental Health Practitioners have a mandate to visit such establishments at least once a year to check on compliance.
“For a new establishment, the Environmental Health Practitioners have to ensure that town planning approval has been acquired by the business owner and that a permit to operate such a business has been acquired. For established accommodation premises, Environmental Health Practioners check for continued compliance with the regulations,” he says.
In cases where any establishment does not have town planning approval or does not meet requirements to run such an establishment, inspectors will issue a notice to the business owner to comply.
“A follow-up inspection to check on compliance will be conducted after the notice has been issued. Should the premises be found not to have rectified the problems, a legal process to prosecute the owner will be instituted,” says Bezuidenhout.
He, however, adds that the department rarely closes down non-compliant establishments.
“Instead, we encourage and work with the establishments to comply with the regulations, because the legal process can drag on for a long time,” he concludes.