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Friday Aug 26, 2016

Cape Town's property valuation system 'deeply flawed'

Cape Town's property valuation system has been questioned after homeowners from all over the metro raised concerns about the value of their homes and tariffs increasing.

Mike Rossi at his home in Rodwell Road, St James, which is valued at R6 million.

Homeowners have inundated the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance (GCTCA), an umbrella body which oversees residents' associations in Cape Town, with complaints about the value of their properties increasing, according to GCTCA chairperson Philip Bam.

Bam yesterday deemed the City's property valuation system as "deeply flawed".

"We have met with various residents' associations from all over Cape Town and the feedback we are getting is that homeowners, more particularly the middle class, are upset because the City has increased the value of their homes, thereby increasing their tariffs and taxes," Bam said.

He said the middle class in the city were now suffering as they "simply cannot afford" to pay tariffs. "We have a situation now where not only the poor are affected, but the middle class as well. Everybody is faced with this problem and we are aware that the valuation system the City is using is deeply flawed," he said.

Bam said the City's valuation system is based on a Canadian model and not viable for Cape Town.

Hout Bay Residents and Ratepayers' Association (HBRRA) chairperson Len Swimmer, who is also on the GCTA executive committee, echoed Bam's sentiments.

"The City's system is flawed and iniquitous. They are taxing people with rates they cannot afford and it's affecting the middle class, and most especially pensioners who do not qualify for tax and tariff rebates.

"It might be working in Canada, but it most certainly is not working in Cape Town," Swimmer said.

St James resident Michael Rossi said the value of his property in the area recently increased from R3 million to R6m.

Rossi insists his house is not worth R6m and he has approached the City to appeal its valuation. He said the City has not been forthcoming in their approach to deal with the matter.

"I appealed the valuation, but the City's property valuation officers' attitudes stink. "Initially they said they would come out to inspect the property, so that they could see for themselves there is no way my house can be valued so high, but then I was told I need to provide them with comparable evidence of sales of properties in the area to substantiate my proposed value," Rossi said.

Rossi said it was difficult to make a comparison because no two properties are the same.

He said that he had been in contact with the City's property valuer for the area, Jerry Iwegbuna, and the City's valuation operations manager, Emil Weichardt, earlier this month to query the matter.

An e-mail from Iwegbuna to Rossi on August 11 reads: "I would like to inform you that the Property Rates Act compels us to determine market value, and that is the bases by which all properties are valued.

"The onus is on you to provide comparable evidence of sales of properties in your area to substantiate your proposed value, as I could not see any comparable motivation with your objection."

"I feel like the City is robbing me because I cannot afford to pay the high tariffs that come with the new price of my property," Rossi added.

Deputy mayor Ian Neilson said the City's property valuations was based on the market value.

"The processes followed by the City comply with the Municipal Property Rates Act. The City's latest general valuation shows that the total valuation of all rateable (sic) properties in the metro has increased from R911 billion in 2012 to R1 156bn in 2015, which is an important reason for the decrease in the rate in the rand or the rates portion of a municipal bill by about 7 percent."

Cape Times


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