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​Residents have rights and responsibilities

As much as residents have a legal recourse regarding the evaluation of their properties, the City also has the right to take action against property owners who fail to pay their rates and taxes.
This was said by Veli Hlophe, the City’s Deputy Director of the Policy and Revenue and Enhancement Department, at the Property Rates Policy review meeting at the Mondeor Recreation Centre earlier this week.

Hlophe said in terms of the Municipal Systems Act, residents were obliged to provide the City with correct addresses where their statements should be sent. He said recently the City had to reimburse residents of a Johannesburg block of flats after they had successfully challenged the evaluation of their properties in court.

He said as a result of the judgment, several changes were made to the City’s Property Rates Policy. These included:

Increasing the threshold of residential properties to R200 000;
Reducing the sectional title rebate from 15% to 10%;
Reducing business ratio from 3.0 to 2.8;
Zero-rating all municipal-owned properties;
Granting rebates for building projects within the Corridors of Freedom; and
Increasing the income notch for pensioners who qualify for rebates.
Hlophe said the City needed to generate income to stimulate the economy and growth.

He said in terms of Section 62 of the Act, the City should review and, if necessary, amend its rates policy annually. The City should levy different rates for different categories of properties based on a number of factors. Hlophe added that it was imperative for property owners to read and understand the legislation and policy documents meant to protect them.

Speaking from the floor, Prince Pilane of Troyeville said he had a problem selling his property – which had been evaluated at R800 000 – after shacks started mushrooming in his area, which has now been infested with rats.

A Mondeor pensioner said he did not know where to lodge an appeal after his objection to the value of his house was rejected.

Another homeowner said he was concerned that he would not get full value for his property – which has been evaluated at R1,8-million – when he intends selling it.

The Mondeor meeting was one of the last public engagements to be held in the first round of the Property Rates Policy review process.

The second round of this public consultation process will be held in April and May, during which new proposals and feedback will be incorporated into a draft document. The process will culminate in the 2015 City Budget speech to be delivered by the Member of the Mayoral Committee for Finance Councillor Geoffrey Makhubo later in the year.