B&B owners lament high municipal rates

2019-11-19 15:55
‘Abusive’ resident asking for her rates bill since January.

‘Abusive’ resident asking for her rates bill since January.

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High municipal rates and ignored by-laws are killing off the bed and breakfast industry in Pietermaritzburg, according to owners.

On Monday, the Pietermaritzburg B&B Network met with Msunduzi municipal officials to discuss problems affecting their businesses, including exorbitant municipal rates, unauthorised accommodation establishments and Airbnbs operating in the city.

Michele de Souza, who has run her Greenlands B&B for the past 22 years, said the accommodation industry in Pietermaritzburg has been the strongest in KwaZulu-Natal, until now.

De Souza, also a member of the Pietermaritzburg B&B Network, told The Witness on Monday that many B&B owners had either already sold their businesses, closed or were on the verge of closing because the industry was not lucrative anymore.

She said from July 1 this year, small home business owners like herself started being charged full commercial property rates like any big business in the city.

“When I used to pay the normal residential rates, I would pay about R900, then around 2011 the municipality started charging us as small home businesses.

“My rates went from R2 970 per month to R4 695, but we didn’t mind paying that because we run a business.

“On July 1, when we went from small home businesses to full commercial properties, my rates shot up to R7 030 a month.”

On top of this, De Souza still has to pay her water and electricity bill, which is about R22 000 every month.

She said they were not averse to paying their way, but wanted Airbnbs and unregistered accommodation establishments to be charged the same rates.

B&Bs were losing serious business as many people were opting to stay at Airbnbs because they’re cheaper, she said.

“We are calling for the municipality to enforce that all small accommodation establishments need to pay business rates.

“We all need to pay the same. It’s unfair to make me, who is authorised to run an accommodation establishment, pay commercial rates but not an Airbnb and other unregistered and unauthorised accommodations. We want the municipality to enforce their by-laws ...” said De Souza.

Msunduzi’s acting senior manager for valuation, Odwa Langa, who chaired Monday’s meeting, said they would be meeting with the small accommodation business owners and all relevant stakeholders again in February.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi rates
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