Clearance certificate logjam ‘at crisis level’

2013-03-15 00:00

MSUNDUZI Municipality is finally addressing delays in the issuing of rates clearance certificates, which local attorneys have described as having reached crisis levels.

The waiting period has grown from a couple of weeks to three months, and sometimes more.

One home owner had to wait seven months. In eThekwini the wait is between seven and 14 days.

Municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi told the executive committee (Exco) yesterday that he met city conveyancers on Wednesday and that both short- and long-term measures were being put in place to solve the problem.

Nkosi said the attorneys complained that the rates clearance certificates, when finally issued, were of too short a duration, leaving little time to correct inconsistencies spotted by the Deeds Office.

By the time the corrections were made, the certificates had expired and the attorney would have to re-apply for another certificate.

Nkosi said they had extended the validity of the clearance certificate from three to six months.

He said the reason for the delays were staff shortages in the rates department. This was going to be remedied by employing temporary staff to help clear the backlog.

More permanent staff would also be employed in the rates section and systems were being put in place to streamline the process and make it more efficient.

Nkosi said the aim was to get certificates issued within 14 days.

Attorney Lawrence Trotter said he had approached the municipality and asked for a meeting to discuss the crisis. Trotter said the manager was very receptive to the concerns expressed.

By yesterday the validity of the certificate had already been extended to six months, he said, adding that he hoped the extra staff would be trained fairly quickly in what needed to be done.

Democratic Alliance Exco member Bill Lambert said he was glad to see speedy attention being paid to the problem.

“It goes a long way to appease the disquiet among attorneys, not only in the city, but elsewhere in the country, as a lot of the conveyancers in the city act for law firms elsewhere,” he said.

Trotter said the delays meant that some residents stood to have their bonds withdrawn.

Everyone involved in the transaction, from estate agents to the entomologists who issued the pest clearance certificates, were forced to wait a long time before being paid. This caused cash flow problems for smaller firms. Sellers were also unable to proceed with their plans and some may have needed the money urgently, he added.

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