Johannesburg - Joburg residents are outraged over property valuation increases that shot up as high as 500% that may result in some of them losing their homes and businesses.
The City of Joburg (CoJ) has sent out letters notifying residents and business owners of the new value of their properties expected to come into effect on July 1.
The increases will not only result in massive monthly rates bills, but will also influence the cost of other services such as water, refuse removal and electricity.
It is estimated that although values have dropped in some areas, over 44% of properties in Joburg had value increases of between 60% and 500%
Many residents, who are on a fixed monthly income, say they are being squeezed out of their homes and businesses that may be forced to shut down, resulting in job losses. A petition has been started at #JhbRatesMustFall.
New property valuations posted on the CoJ website show that some suburbs, such as the industrial area of Kew, bordering on Alexandra, face increases of about 500%.
Ruggero Grech-Cumbo, who manages the Kew industrial area, said his rates for a small panelbeating businesses in Second Street had gone from R3850 to R22000 a month.
“We cannot afford this - many businesses will close down. The new valuations of industrial properties in Kew have been calculated at a 500% increase. All Kew property owners are outraged by the new valuations, because of the mammoth rates and taxes increases that these new valuations will generate.”
Harry Sewlall of Parkmore said: “Property owners have been dealt a killer blow in the form of exorbitant hikes in property values to entrap homeowners in a higher rates bracket. My modest three-bedroom property, which has had no extensions done to it during my residency, has shot up from the present market value of R1550000 to R2810000. This new evaluation constitutes a 75% increase.”
He said the increases were designed to milk more revenue from residents and was tantamount to extortion by the CoJ.
Melrose and Melrose North residents too are getting increases of up to 82%. The Melrose North Residents and Ratepayers Association (MNRRA) has appealed to all its members to lodge objections to the new valuation roll, which opened for inspection to the public last week.
Elsa Kruger said: “We are going to let the city know that we are not taking this exploitation.”
She said her valuation had gone up by 40% and some in her suburb by a staggering 82%
“I tried to object online but couldn’t register because of “high volumes of traffic. People are going to be squeezed out of their homes, especially older people who get a rebate if their property is under a certain value.
"This increase will push them over the limit. This is atrocious. In our complex there are widows and pensioners and other elderly people.
"When they bought their properties years ago it was affordable, and they looked forward to growing old there.
"Now, the inflated rates are forcing people out of their homes which they purchased decades ago,” she added.
Some southern suburbs have also been affected. An Oakdene resident, who did not want his name disclosed, said his property had gone up by 62%, which he could not afford.
Said another: “We thought this DA-led council would be better. They are nothing but a money-grabbing bunch trying to bring money into the city's coffers to show how much money they can bring in.
Randpark Ridge resident Jimmy Meikle said: “After being screwed by the ANC, the DA also wants to screw us. Go to hell”.
However, certain property values have declined, such as in Westdene and Linmeyer.
Although the rates cut has been welcomed by residents in these suburbs, they too have expressed concern at devaluing property rates due to neglect by the city and an increase in crime.
A Linmeyer resident expressed concern at her devaluation. Her property value decreased from R1.9million m to R1.6m.
The city said ratepayers, residents and stakeholders have until the end of February to comment on the proposed rates policy.
The mayoral committee member for finance, Funzela Ngobeni, said residential property statistics showed that only 4.61% of properties had decreased in value.
Another 40.71% of properties increased between 21% and 40%, and 30.65% of properties were up between 41% and 60%.
About 8% of properties increased between 61% and 80% and 2.2% of properties increased between 81% and 100%, while 3.38% of properties increased by more than 100%.
Ngobeni said CAB Holdings, which was registered only last year and had only two directors, was appointed to do the posting of the Section 49 notices.
“A Section 49 notice is a notice sent to property owners informing them of the amount at which their property has been valued as on July 1, 2017 by the municipal valuer and entered in the new 2018 valuation roll,” said Ngobeni.
The Municipal Property Rates Act requires the city to review its tariffs annually and involve the public in deciding on amendments to existing ones. About 879000 properties were recently recorded in the city’s general valuation roll.