Ekurhuleni ignores complaints about evaluation roll and rates errors
The cut-off date for Ekurhuleni residents to lodge formal objections to the metro’s controversial 2021-2025 evaluation roll is Friday 18 June, but despite complaints about the inaccuracy of the roll the city manager is nowhere to be seen.
OUTA calls on the Ekurhuleni metro to extend the deadline for objections to the valuations roll to 30 June 2021, to meet as a matter of urgency with us, and to accept electronic objections to the valuations from residents.
The valuation roll problem
Ekurhuleni published a new valuation roll in February and it is due to take effect on 1 July. The municipal valuation of properties is the basis for the calculation of the rates which property owners must pay. Earlier this month OUTA alerted supporters to complaints by residents that property values in many cases were increased exorbitantly, which could result in an increase of hundreds and even thousands of rand on rates bills.
OUTA and the Bedfordview Residents’ Action Group (RAG) have attempted several times to reach out to the Ekurhuleni city manager, asking for a meeting on the issues relating to the valuation roll, but have been ignored. The city manager’s indifference to a call from civil society may suggest that Ekurhuleni is fully aware of the problem but is reluctant to account for it, or that the metro simply does not care about its residents’ concerns. This is a sign of a dysfunctional city.
To make matters worse, the city insists that objections to the valuation roll be lodged by hand at municipal offices listed on its website. Under the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, this is inexplicable and unjustifiable. Even more bizarre is the city’s request to residents who have objected to come to the municipal offices again so to flag their municipal accounts.
Ekurhuleni’s failure to allow electronic objections – particularly in the light of President Ramaphosa’s promises that South Africa will be a technological adopter and innovator – underlines Ekurhuleni’s incompetence or general lack of infrastructure. It may even be intentional as the municipality knows that residents will be reluctant to queue, effectively lowering the number of potential objections.
“To expect its residents to physically queue up during a pandemic is disgraceful. Offering no electronic alternative exacerbates this,” says Brendan Slade, OUTA’s Legal Project Manager.
After residents have lodged objections, OUTA recommends that they lodge a formal dispute in an attempt to avoid the higher payment until the objection is resolved.
OUTA understands that the flagging of municipal accounts with a dispute constitutes an arrangement between a resident and the city and that, come 1 July 2021, the residents who successfully lodged an objection by hand before the cut-off date and whose accounts have subsequently been flagged with a dispute, may not have to pay the full new rates charges. Instead, those residents may pay rates based on the old valuation, plus an amount reflecting the residents’ proposed valuation; OUTA and RAG suggest an additional 8% be offered, which is considered reasonable. This amount will be payable, pending the outcome of the dispute. See the city's statement of 15 July 2021 here.
Those residents who file an objection but elect to pay the full new rates bill until the matter is finalised will have their accounts credited by the municipality if the matter is resolved in their favour.
What you can do
Check the Ekurhuleni metro’s proposed valuation roll for 2021-2025. This is here.
Compare this with your existing valuation (this is listed on your municipal bill).
If your property value has escalated exorbitantly or if your property has been incorrectly zoned on the new valuation roll, you must lodge an objection with the city. See here.
Deliver your objection letter by hand to an Ekurhuleni metro customer service centre. A list of centres is here. Keep a copy of your objection and get a receipt showing confirmation that the metro has received your objection. Objections may not be submitted by e-mail.
After you have filed an objection, you should file a dispute. This is to put a hold on the increase. A suggested form letter for a dispute is here.
In addition, send it to these e-mail addresses: Lereku.Leku@ekurhuleni.gov.za and Imogen.Mashazi@ekurhuleni.gov.za
A soundclip with comment from Brendan Slade, OUTA’s Legal Project Manager, is here.