Picture: Matthews Baloyi
Johannesburg - Light relief has been granted to some 900 000 Joburg property owners who are up in arms over massive increases in rates and tariffs set to kick in on July 1.

The City of Joburg on Wednesday announced that residents would get a rebate on the first R350 000 of their property values - up from R200 000.

This means that residential property owners will not pay rates on the first R350 000 on their properties.

The new property valuation roll was released last month, which resulted in a general increase of about 18.5% in property rates, with some rocketing by 45%.

There was a huge outcry when some owners had their valuations increased by up to 5000%.

Read: #RatesMustFall: 700% property value shock

#JhbRatesMustFall: Valuations to squeeze residents out of their homes

Makhura at loggerheads with Mashaba over property re-valuations remarks

Residents feared that the hefty property valuation increases could result in some of them losing their homes and businesses.

The increases would not only result in massive monthly rates statements, but would also influence the cost of other services such as water, refuse and electricity, which fuelled ratepayers’ fury.

Although values have dropped in some areas, it is estimated that over 44% of properties in Joburg faced valuation increases of between 60% and 5000%.

Many residents, who are on a fixed monthly income, complained that they were being “squeezed out” of their homes, with businesses that may be forced to shut down resulting in job losses.

They decided to fight back with a petition #JhbRatesMustFall.

In the face of this outcry, the city also agreed last month to review about 8000 commercial property increases, which appeared to be grossly overvalued.

“The timing between the publication of the new general valuation roll and the tabling of our draft budget did not afford us the requisite time to make these considerations.

“After analysing the impact of the new valuation roll on residential rates, we initiated this relief, subject to the council’s approval in May,” said mayor Herman Mashaba.

The city had to consider the economic pressure and financial strain on household income, he added.

“As a part of the public consultation process that informs the budget development, the reaction to the 2018 roll must be considered.

“Its impact must be softened to reduce the shock on residential household income,” Mashaba said.

“The ability to collect from those who can pay, but do not, must be the focus of the city’s efforts, rather than continuing to penalise those who obey the law and pay their rates and services,” he added.

Objections to the valuation roll close tomorrow, and this week the city’s Sandton walk-in centre had three-hour-long queues. But residents still face massive tariff increases from July 1, including a whopping 45% in sewer costs for small properties measuring less than 300m²; those above this face an average of 14.2%, depending on the size of the property.

Water is set to increase by 16.9% for the average households using between 6 and 10 kilolitres a month, with the rest rising by up to 17.7%, depending on kilolitres used.

Another shock increase, which is likely to affect Joburg tenants in rented buildings with pre-paid water meters, is a 30% increase for the purchase of between 0 and 10 kilolitres. The provision of the first six kilolitres free of charge was done away with last year.

Electricity is set to rise by an average of 7.37%, depending on the amount consumed. Refuse charges are up by 6.8%.

Other proposals which are likely to hit customers hard, and which many residents regard as hidden costs, will include the scrapping of the demand side management levy of 2 cents/KWh electricity, which will be replaced with a 6c/kWh municipal surcharge placed on all categories, except the first 500kWh per month for residential customers.

The increase in the monthly service charge for domestic accounts is expected to rise from R114 to R123.

Pensioner rebates have been proposed for properties valued up to R2.5million - up from R2m.

Residents have until April 22 to object. The proposed tariffs can be found on www.joburg.org.za under “key documents”.

The Star