The Jakarta Post
When Rianti moved into Cipinang Besar Selatan low-cost rented apartment (rusunawa) in East Jakarta, she thought that she would stay there for good after being evicted from the banks of the Cipinang river by hundreds of Jakarta Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) officers in April 2015.
The 40-year-old woman said almost all of her belongings were destroyed during the eviction along with her house, which was built above the waterway. Soon afterwards, she and hundreds of other residents moved into the rusunawa.
'My family and I moved here with almost nothing,' she told The Jakarta Post recently. 'I think it could be time for a new start.'
However, Rianti was disappointed to find out soon after she moved in that like other rusunawa residents, her family was only given a two-year period to live there as stipulated in the rental agreement between them and the management.
She said her mother was the one who had signed the contract before they moved into the apartment and she was sure that her mother did not understand any of the terms of the agreement. 'It means we have less than a year and a half to find a new place if our contract isn't extended,' she continued.
Ninis Rahmawati, another resident of the Cipinang Besar Selatan rusunawa, also just found out about the two-year period clause even though she was the one who signed it in the first place. 'My family was evicted only a day before. I was only focused on getting a new place for them and did not even think to read the agreement carefully,' she said.
Ninis, her husband and their daughter live in block D of the building complex and pay Rp 300,000 (US$21.6) monthly rental fee as well as Rp 300,000 for water and electricity bills.
Ninis said she did not have any idea where her family would move if their contract was not extended by the rusunawa management and they were 'evicted for a second time'.
Most of the residents who have been relocated to rusunawa were not aware of the two-year limitation in the agreement nor that contract extension was subject to management approval.
Article 3 Paragraph 4 of Gubernatorial Regulation No. 11 on the rusunawa residential system stipulates that the 'period of rental agreement for an occupant is two year and can be extended'.
Meanwhile, a copy of the agreement between rusunawa residents and management that was made available to the Post shows that the management was the only party authorized to approve an extension.
Handika Febrian, a lawyer with the Jakarta Legal Aid (LBH Jakarta) who has consistently fought on behalf of evicted residents said the two year clause was more solid proof that relocation of evicted residents was only a temporary solution provided by the city administration.
According to him, in some rusunawa he discovered that the clause was used by management to request higher rents as a condition of approving the contract extension, adding that giving management this authority caused 'illegal levy practices'. 'We have for a long time tried to raise the public's awareness that rusunawa are not the answer for evictees. They are a temporary solution from the city administration to silence protest from the evicted families,' he said.
LBH Jakarta recorded that 50 percent of the 30 forced eviction cases in Jakarta between January and August last year had affected 3,433 families and 433 businesses. 'There is no chance that those thousands of families can get back on their feet in only two years,' he said
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