R6,7 mln for Northdale house?

2008-02-25 00:00

Residents in the northern suburbs, the former Indian and coloured group areas, are reeling with shock to find that their properties have been given some of the highest values in the city, higher even than upmarket suburbs like Montrose and Wembley.

There are examples where ordinary sub-economic council houses built from hollow blocks have been valued at R1 million, leading residents to describe the new valuation roll as a mess.

They plan to demand answers from the city council as to how the firm of consultants who were given a R25 million contract to carry out the new valuations in the city, arrived at these figures.

A meeting has been arranged for Wednesday, February 27, at the Northdale Civic Centre, starting at 7 pm. Member of the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature Yusuf Bhamjee said his phone and those of councillors in the area have been ringing off the hook with calls from irate residents since the new valuation roll was released on Thursday.

He said the meeting will be a fact-finding exercise to establish the extent of the problem.

A Northdale resident whose three-bedroom house has been valued at R6,7 million described the city’s new valuation roll, apparently based on market values, as a joke.

“What market did they use as a benchmark? Ballito?” he said. “At the height of the property boom I couldn’t even get R1 million for my house, so how did they arrive at this ludicrous figure?”

He said estate agents he consulted since he got the new value laughed when they saw his house.

“I phoned the council and was told not to panic because the value of the property is not the rates I am going to pay.

“I was told that the rates will be based on a tariff set by council and that this will be low. Do they think I’m stupid? I will be paying this tariff on a property that the council valuers believe is worth R6,7 million, which will put me in the top ratepaying bracket.

There is also the question of what will happen in subsequent years when the tariff is doubled or tripled.”

Bhamjee said he can understand why people are feeling aggrieved. Historically the former Indian and coloured group areas paid the highest rates in the city. This was because the apartheid government based their rates calculations on supply and demand.

“There was an artificial shortage of land in these group areas and the demand was high. The National Party deliberately limited the amount of land allocated to these group areas to discourage large black settlements in their cities.”

“A successful rates campaign by residents in the early 1990s resulted in the northern suburbs getting a group areas rebate, which gave some relief. The latest problem affects people of all races, including many African families who have settled in the area,” Bhamjee added.

nalini@witness.co.za

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