Municipality finally acts to correct value of pensioner’s council house

2009-09-02 00:00

PENSIONER Lingapa Moodley’s two-bedroomed, semi-detached council house has been given four different valuations in less than a year, three of them without a valuer setting foot on his property.

He joked yesterday that he has been reduced from a millionaire to a pauper by three strokes of a pen.

Moodley heard of his latest re-valuation in a phone call from the Msunduzi Municipality late on Monday afternoon He was told that the latest valuation of his house is R280 000.

The 87-year-old man’s woes started with the new valuation roll to implement the Property Rates Act. Moodley’s council house is made of blocks with no ceilings, unplastered walls, an asbestos roof and tin doors. It was valued at R1 million. He objected and the value was reduced to R860 000. However, there was a public outcry over the valuations, especially in the northern suburbs. The first valuation roll was scrapped. Council paid the consultants, who had carried out the initial valuations, an additional R25 million to redo the roll. Moodley found that his house remained at R860 000.

He objected for a second time, still after no one had set foot on his property, and the valuation was dropped to R765 000.

At the beginning of August, Moodley received a municipal bill for over R800, which was more than half his pension. The Witness wrote about his plight and the inaction of the Msunduzi Municipality. On Monday, the pensioner received a call from Don Shaw of the Valuations Department to say the valuation of his house had been further reduced to R280 000.

A flabbergasted Moodley said he is baffled how the valuators keep coming up with amounts without setting foot on his property.

He felt some relief yesterday when his ward councillor, Les Naidoo, arrived with the municipality’s head of Real Estate and Valuations, Blackie Zwart. Moodley shook Zwart’s hand and told him, “You are the first person from the municpality to come to my door.” He said he believes the R280 000 is still too high a valuation and his house should have been re-assessed at about R180 000.

Zwart inspected the house and said the latest reduction had come about after the municipality itself had objected. He said that if his department is unhappy with any of the amounts on the roll, if a property is under or over-valued, it can object. He explained that the amount of R280 000 represents what properties like Moodley’s were selling for in July 2008 — property sales at this time were used as the benchmark. Since then property prices have come down again.

However, the valuation roll will remain unchanged until 2012, when it is readjusted to the market value of that year.

According to Zwart, supplementary rolls will be prepared. He said Moodley’s adjusted value will appear on the supplementary roll. He advised that if ratepayers have missed the opportunity to object and believe they have a genuine case to support an objection, they can make a valuation inquiry by writing to his department.

“We will look at the calculations and if there are obvious errors, these will be corrected. The whole process is not cast in stone,” Zwart added.

Naidoo said he is happy that Zwart had come to his ward to visit a number of properties with problematic valuations. He added, however, that he is still not satisfied with the final value of R280 000 decided for Moodley’s property. “I believe that it should be valued at a lot less, but I will be looking at all aspects of the valuation before reaching any conclusions.”

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