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Monday Aug 05, 2013

Joburg objects to 63 000 property valuations

In a bizarre move that is going to affect thousands of residents, the City of Joburg has objected to the new valuation of almost 63 000 properties on the recently released general valuation roll.

The question now being asked is: Why is the city being allowed to object after May 3, the cut-off date for objections?

Another question is: If there are now some 88 000 objections, or 11 percent of the valuation roll, did the valuers do a proper job in the first place, and what are these objections going to cost the council?

Most residents received a valuation notification in February or March, giving their new valuations and calling for objections before May 3. The new roll came into effect on July 1.

There were 25 000 objections, but now the council has belatedly objected to a further 63 000 valuations. Residents have been receiving letters from the municipal valuer informing them that the city has objected and saying they should make submissions about the value of their properties.

However, the city hasn't indicated the price it thinks the properties should be valued at, which attorney Chantelle Gladwin says renders the notices void.

Under the proposed new valuation figure, it states: 'Review of value required if under or overvalued.'

Gladwin says: 'The city is flouting several laws. It doesn't understand that consumers have rights in terms of the constitution, access to information and administrative law, to be given the information they need to exercise or make a decision.

'The fact that an owner has a right of appeal doesn't mean the city can blatantly negate the owners' rights to just administrative action during the objection process.'

The city's refusal to comply with the most basic laws caused consumers to suffer thousands - if not hundreds of thousands - of rand in financial losses, effort and time because they didn't know what to do and were seeking legal assistance, or using valuers to submit objections. Also, says Gladwin, because the municipality puts the same property on several supplementary rolls, owners have to do this several times, at great cost.

'In my legal opinion, this is an abuse of the powers in the Municipal Property Rates Act, and the court should not condone this.'

And, to add to the confusion, the letters are dated May 31, but were delivered only a few days ago. They give 45 days from May 31 to make submissions. The DA has accused the ANC-led council of attempting to extort additional rates.

DA finance spokesman John Mendelsohn said: 'A report to the finance section 79 committee, when the roll was compiled, stated that a rigorous quality audit would be done before it was published so that objections could be contained to a more acceptable level of 5 percent.'

The supplementary roll was published in May to, among other things, cure omissions and correct errors, so these additional properties should have been added there.

Mendelsohn said objections took about 18 months to be heard, and, meanwhile, residents were expected to pay higher rates.

Also, the inaccuracy of values on the general roll could have a negative effect on the city's rates income and render uncertain the estimated budgeted income from rates.

Revenue spokesman Kgamanyane Stan Maphologela said the notices were only 'statement' letters from the municipal valuer advising that the city had lodged an objection to the value, and if the owner wished, they too could make a submission.

'It's important to note that the valuer and the City of Joburg are different parties in this instance.'

Because notices were delivered late, the date of acceptance of submissions has been extended to August 16.

The Star


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