OUTA calls for transparency on City of Joburg property valuations
Property owners in the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) should be aware of the amended values attributed to their properties by the City’s General Valuation Roll 2023 (GVR 2023). From what we have gathered, the CoJ has indicated around 42 000 property owners objected to the value of their properties, following the City’s valuation objection process which ran between 15 February and 5 May 2023.
Many property owners missed the original objection deadline of 31 March 2023, due to poor communication by the CoJ, resulting in an extension for objections being granted to 5 May 2023. While we imagine that many property owners took up the extended objection deadline (following extensive media coverage by OUTA and other civil society organisations), it appears to OUTA that despite the extension of the objection period, insufficient engagement and notices were served to enable more property owners to object to their property values reflected on GVR 2023. More evidence to this fact stems from the higher number of objections in the GVR 2018 process some five years ago, when over 50 000 objections were received by the CoJ from approximately 850 000 registered properties, which were subjected to a far lower valuation increase at that time. Today, there are almost 950 000 properties and less objections have been raised on a GVR which appears to have excessively high valuations.
“Something is amiss here and we need the City of Joburg’s management to be extremely transparent in this process,” says Wayne Duvenage, OUTA’s CEO.
Since the closure of OUTA’s survey, wherein over 3 200 property owners indicated an average of 37% increase to the value of their CoJ property values between June and July 2023, we have been made aware of a reduction in the CoJ’s application of some property values reflected in their August invoices.
What we don’t know however, is the extent of these adjustments in August and whether these reductions have been applied only to those who objected, or across the board to all property valuations. We will also request the City’s management to explain what has transpired and will ask if a credit of the difference applied to adjusted invoices will be made.
Furthermore, we would like to know why the CoJ reduced the rebate value of the first R350 000 exempt from property rates to R300 000. This extra R50 000 will add a further R35 million per month to the CoJ’s coffers.
Over time, the CoJ property tariff charges have increased at inflation levels, whereas the property values have not kept pace with such trends. This in turn means that residents are being squeezed for more taxes from the CoJ, when their property values have not increased as much as depicted in GVR 2023, whilst service delivery has declined significantly.
OUTA’s advice to property owners
If a property owner has lodged an objection to the value of their property as applied by the CoJ, and this has not been adjusted to the reasonable value of your property within a few months of the new municipal financial year starting in July 2023, property owners have a limited period in which to file an appeal to the City’s Valuations Appeal Board. The appeal process is on the CoJ’s eServices web site. The form used to lodge an appeal after having no response to the formal objection process can be found here for residential properties.
OUTA has launched a petition to support its message to the CoJ that excessive property values being applied to increase taxes on residents is unacceptable.
Due to the poor public notification processes undertaken by the CoJ to inform residents of the property valuations and objections process, thousands of property owners unfortunately missed the 5 May 2023 deadline for objections, only to receive a nasty surprise on their property and utilities invoice in July.
Fortunately, there is an additional process applicable to property owners, which is covered in Section 78 of the Local Government: Municipal Property Rates Act 6 of 2004, which is explained by Schindlers Attorneys here. The forms to raise these objections are here for residential properties and for businesses and schools.
A soundclip with comment by OUTA CEO, Wayne Duvenage is here.
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