Property owners within the City of Johannesburg (COJ) footprint are advised that a new valuation roll 10 has been published for certain properties which may impact their monthly rates billing. Detailed notes concerning how to check the valuation roll and take further an objection written by Schindler Attorneys, are given below.
WHO SHOULD READ THIS NOTE?
Any person who owns property that is situated within the jurisdiction of the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality (“the COJ”). If you receive any statements of account from the COJ, City Power, Joburg Water, or Pikitup, your property is situated within the jurisdiction of the COJ.
WHAT IS MY CURRENT MUNICIPAL VALUTION, AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Every property is supposed to have a municipal valuation. You should see a value, represented in Rands, on the top right hand corner of your statement. This is the property valuation that the COJ has ascribed to your property. If you do not receive statements, you will have to phone the COJ on 0860 562 874 and quote your account number and name, to determine what your municipal valuation is.
The municipal valuation is a value ascribed to your property by the Valuations Department at the COJ. It is determined based on a number of factors and the precise value is calculated according to formulae determined by the City’s Valuations Policy and the Local Government: Municipal Property Rates Act 6 of 2004. The municipal value is not necessarily equivalent to market value. The amount that the COJ charges you for rates each month, is based on your municipal valuation. If the municipal valuation increases, then the amount you pay each month for rates will also increase, and vice versa.
WHAT IS A VALUATION ROLL AND WHERE DO I FIND IT?
This is a database in which the COJ stores the municipal valuations of all properties recorded on that particular roll. Every property in Joburg should (hypothetically) be on a roll, but because properties are continuously coming into existence and ceasing to exist, new rolls are created (these are referred to as supplementary rolls) to include any properties that have not been previously recorded on another, prior, general roll.
Each general roll is re-published once every few years, and the property values updated at the same time. Depending on a number of factors, your property value may have stayed the same, or increased, or decreased, from the value contained on the last roll.
The COJ should give you notice if your property is appearing on a roll that is being published in the near future. This notice should tell you what your current municipal valuation is, what your revised municipal valuation is, the name of the roll that your property is now appearing on, and where you can inspect the contents of such roll. These rolls contain only municipal valuations; they do not contain reasons for same. If you have received notice that your property is on a roll that is soon to be published, you should determine immediately whether you are satisfied with
the municipal valuation accorded to your property. If you are not, you will have to object. See the section below on objecting for more information.
Even if you have not yet received notice that your property is on a roll that is soon to be published, it is a good idea to determine which roll your property is listed on, and when it will be re-published in the future. This will give you an idea as to when you should be receiving notice of your revised property valuation, so that (if you do not receive same), you are armed with the relevant information to determine your revised value and if necessary, you have sufficient time to object to same.
Most valuation rolls that are being published for the first time are posted on the COJ’s website. For example, Supplementary Roll 10 is open for public inspection from 19 September 2012 to 23 November 2012, and is available online at www.joburg.org.za . If the roll that your property is on is not available online, you can inspect it at the COJ’s offices in Braamfontein, or you can email email@example.com for more information. In some instances, you can check your property valuation online on the City’s E-services website, by logging in using your account number and pin (which appear on your municipal statement).
WHAT DO I DO IF MY PROPERTY VALUATION HAS BEEN INCREASED?
If you are of the opinion that your municipal property value is too high, you can lodge an objection with the COJ, giving reasons for same. The COJ will then assess your objection, and notify you of the outcome of same. If the COJ finds that your objection is valid, it will revalue your property in line with your objection. If it finds that your objection is not valid, it will advise you of same and your property valuation will remain unchanged.
You can download the relevant objection forms on the COJ’s website: www.joburg.org.za . It is also possible, if your property appears on the new Supplementary Roll 9, to lodge an objection on the COJ website. Please be mindful of the specific time periods in which your objections must be lodged in order to be valid. These time periods are stipulated on the notice that you should be forwarded by the COJ advising you that your property is on a roll that is soon to be published. These time periods are usually quite short (ie only 30 – 45 days), so it is imperative that you determine your property valuation as soon as is possible after you become aware that your property is to be re-valued, and object within the time frames prescribed by legislation.
WHAT HAPPENS IF MY PROPERTY CATEGORY IS INCORRECT ON THE ROLL?
You will need to lodge an objection in the same manner as described above and follow the same procedure set out below in relation to an incorrect property category, as would apply to an incorrect property valuation.
WHAT HAPPENS IF MY OBJECTION IS REJECTED?
You may appeal to the Valuations Appeal Board within a certain, prescribed time period, of 30 days from date of receipt of notification of the outcome of the objection. The forms for appeals are available at the COJ from its Valuations Department, and can be downloaded from the COJ website.
The Valuations Appeal Board is only convened once every few months, but at the next meeting your appeal will be considered and either accepted or rejected by the Board. You will be given written notification of the outcome of the appeal.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE APPEALS BOARD REJECTS MY APPEAL?
If the Appeals Board rejects your appeal and you are of the opinion that your appeal should have succeeded, you will need to approach an attorney for assistance to take the matter further legally. One possible option is to approach a court to review the decision of the Appeals Board.
CAN I OBJECT OR APPEAL OUTSIDE OF THE PRESCRIBED TIME PERIODS?
As above, the COJ is not obliged to consider your objection or appeal if it is lodged out of time. If there has been an obvious error in the calculating of your valuation, you can still approach the COJ’s Valuations Department to rectify this error, outside of the prescribed time periods for objections. As a rule, however, the Valuations Department will not consider objections that were not the product of obvious errors, outside of the prescribed time periods.
WHO CAN I APPROACH FOR FURTHER ASSISTANCE?
It is best to approach an attorney or property valuer for assistance in these matters, as the principles of valuation and the procedure for dealing with objections and appeals is complex and specialized. Both professionals charge a fee for their services. Depending on the nature of the objection/appeal and how quickly the COJ deals with the objection/appeal, it can take anything from 2 months to 2 years to resolve a valuations matter.
HOW MUCH DO I PAY THE CITY WHILST MY OBJECTION / APPEAL IS PENDING?
The applicable legislation prescribes that the lodging of an objection / appeal does not relieve the consumer from making payment of all amounts billed to it for rates by the COJ. This means that you should make payment of all amounts billed to you for rates during this period, even if those amounts are more than you would expect to pay, when your objection / appeal succeeds.
Only if your objection / appeal has been lodged and you have not received notification of the outcome of the objection / appeal within the prescribed time periods, can you log a query / dispute with the COJ in respect of same. This can be done by phoning the call centre, sending a fax or emailing the relevant department. Proof of the lodging of this query should be kept as it may form part of evidence necessary to produce to a
Board / court at a later stage. Once you have logged a query / dispute, you can then pay the COJ the average amount of rates billed (calculated over a three month period, immediately before you lodged your objection). If you do not pay any amounts for rates at all, or pay less than the three months average, your query / dispute will not remain valid and will fall away (note that only the query/dispute will fall away, not the unconsidered objection/appeal). This would allow the COJ to take legal action against you to recover any outstanding amounts.
Notes written by Andrew Schaefer (Managing Director)