Rates: Don’t wait to object

2008-03-11 00:00

Don’t wait for the municipality to announce its rates randage before objecting to the value of your property, as by then it may be too late, warn local estate agents.

This was in response to a frequently asked question on whether people are wasting their time objecting to the values of their homes when they don’t know what rates randage or tariff the municipality is going to charge.

Estate agents explained that ratepayers have two opportunities to interact and influence the implementation of the new Property Rates Act, which comes into effect in the city in July this year.

The first is a chance to look at the new valuation roll, which under the new system is based on market value, and check whether one’s property has been fairly valued.

This will help ensure that you as a ratepayer will not pay more than you need to when the municipality finalises its budget and advertises its tariff or rates randage.

According to estate agents, this is the only time that individual ratepayers can directly interact with the process as it affects their property.

The municipality has announced that the closing date for this process is March 31, so objections to valuations of individual properties will have to be lodged before this date.

The participative process involving the valuation roll will only happen once every four years when, according to the law, the roll has to be reviewed.

The second chance will be to raise objections against the tariffs set. The Msunduzi Municipality is expected to finalise its budget and advertise its new tariffs this month, though the exact date has not been set.

According to the law, if ratepayers are unhappy with the tariff they will have time to object. In Pietermaritzburg, this objection period is expected to take place in April. In this instance, individual objections do not carry weight and in other towns, like uMngeni, it was only widespread community protest that forced the municipality to reconsider and lower its rate tariff.

The pundits are not expecting Msunduzi to announce a high rates randage or tariff, as there is an election year coming up and they have also seen the effects of doing so from other municipalities.

However, they warn that new municipal budgets are set every year and while the rates randage may be low this year, it could be high next year or the year after and this is why it is important for ratepayers to check that their property has been correctly valued to ensure that they do not end up paying more than they have to.

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