Next step for vacant land owners PDF Print E-mail
News - Aktueel
Monday, 25 March 2013 14:36
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Residents who dispute the Tshwane metro council’s exorbitant vacant land rates have recently registered a non-profit organisation to drive the legal process against the metro.

In September last year we reported that about 350 angry residents held an urgent public meeting after they received their municipal accounts reflecting the new rates and retrospective adjustments, backdated to 1 July 2011.

Ex-Kungwini residents’ rates were increased without notice or a public participation process from a low base of 2¢ in the rand by about 250%.

At the meeting a vacant land task team was formed to direct the community’s future efforts to have the vacant land rates invalidated by the High Court. The We Can Win website was established to keep landowners informed.

Threaten
The task team had a formal meeting with the metro municipality’s executive director of revenue management, Dilyan Pillay in October 2012, but matters could not be settled amicably and non-paying landowners were threatened with prosecution.

Land owners registered on We Can Win were advised to submit disputes to the metro, but apart from a generic response letter, there has been no specific reaction from the metro.

The vacant land task team has established a non-profit company, Malvigenix, trading as We Can Win, to drive the legal process. In February 549 land owners have already registered as We Can Win subscribers. Subscribers are requested to contribute R1 000 for each property.

Appeal
We Can Win’s lawyer, Gerhard Erasmus, advised land owners who have received a dismissal letter of the disputes they have lodged with the metro municipality to address an appeal with the appeal body, which will soon be established. He said it is clear that in the end We Can Win will have to litigate against the metro to stop it implementing its credit control measures.

Should any We Can Win member receive a summons to do with arrears on a vacant property, it must urgently be referred to We Can Win.

Gerhard said that residents should not stop paying rates, but that they should at least pay whatever they’ve been paying in the past plus six percent added, until the dispute has been resolved with the municipality.

Blacklisted
According to Gerhard the collection policy makes no provision under which you can be blacklisted before there has been a judgement in court about alleged debt that is subject to tax and is in arrears. It can only happen after a dispute lodged with the metro council has been attended to and this includes the appeal process.

Land owners who have received offers for the purchase of their properties and decide to pay the account or make an arrangement with the municipality, need to stipulate that they are making the payment under protest and with reservation to their rights.

Valuation
The City of Tshwane’s general valuation roll was published at the end of February and the property value stipulated in the valuation roll will determine future rates levied to that property. Land owners are encouraged to inspect the valuation roll and should there be a problem with the value category, they should declare a dispute.

Land owners registered at We can Win will be informed of the actions they need to take. For more information, visit www.wecanwin.co.za.
 

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