The City of Johannesburg has published a new General Valuation Roll (GVR) that will come into effect from 1 July and will be used to determine the rates charged on almost 900 000 properties in the metro until at least 30 June 2022.
The roll is currently open for inspection and objections until 6 April, and it is in the interests of every owner to ensure that the correct categorisation and valuation has been assigned to their property – and to lodge an official objection if they believe this not to be the case.
An incorrect categorisation or valuation could result in the owner being overcharged for rates for the next four or five years. It could also create difficulties for those trying to rezone their properties, or for those trying to sell, by discouraging prospective buyers.
IS YOUR PROPERTY IN THE CoJ?
According to Schindlers Attorneys If you receive any accounts from the CoJ, City Power, Jo’burg Water or Pikitup, your property is situated within the jurisdiction of the COJ and you should check the new GVR.
This is currently open for inspection and/ or objection online at https://coj2018.evaluations.co.za/eServices/, at the CoJ’s offices in Braamfontein, and at 12 other venues around the city. More information is available on www.joburg.org.za, or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT IS A MUNICIPAL VALUATION, AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?
According to the Municipal Property Rates Act 6 of 2004 (MPRA), every property is supposed to be categorised as residential, sectional title, non-residential and agriculture, and to have a municipal valuation.
This information is usually to be found on your municipal account for rates and services but if you don’t receive accounts, you can call the CoJ on 0860 562 874 and quote your account number and name to obtain it.
The municipal valuation is not necessarily equivalent to the current market value of your property. However, the amount that the CoJ charges you for rates each month is calculated according to the category the property falls into as well as its municipal valuation.
Residential properties enjoy a rebate (on the first R200 000 of value) that does not apply to non-residential properties. But no matter what type of property you own, if the municipal valuation increases, then the amount you pay each month for rates will also increase, and vice versa.
The CoJ website explains that the valuations stated in the new GVR are supposed to reflect the market value of each property in accordance with the market conditions which applied on 1 July 2017. This implies the most probable price that the property would have realised on that date if sold on the open market by a willing seller to a willing buyer.
It also explains that each category of property in the municipality is valued on different basis, although they all relate to the market value on 1 July 2017. For example, residential properties (including sectional title units) are valued on a comparable sales method.
Most commercial properties (including shops, offices and factories) are valued on an income basis, while institutional properties such as schools, hospitals and clinics are valued on a cost basis.
WHAT IS THE GENERAL VALUATION ROLL (GVR) AND HOW DO I CHECK IT?
The GVR is a database of all properties in the jurisdiction of a particular local authority and their municipal valuations. In terms of the MPRA, it is supposed to be updated every four years.
Supplementary valuation rolls may also be compiled in the intervening years to take account of changes such as new developments, building demolitions or changes of zoning.
In Johannesburg, the city’s Valuations Department has just compiled a new GVR and updated the valuations of the properties listed on that roll. Depending on a number of factors, your property value may have stayed the same, increased or decreased from the value contained on the last roll.
By now the CoJ should have sent you a notice advising you of the new GVR and what your revised property valuation is. It should also tell you when, where and how you can inspect the contents of the GVR and where and how to object if you are not satisfied that categorisation or your property or the new valuation is accurate.
If you did not receive a notice, you should know that the GVR is currently open for inspection and objections until 6 April and that more information can be found at https://coj2018.evaluations.co.za/eServices/.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I BELIEVE MY PROPERTY HAS BEEN INCORRECTLY CATEGORISED OR INCORRECTLY VALUED?
Section 50 of the MPRA provides for owners to object to the either the valuation assigned to their property on a GVR, or a re-categorisation of their property that could lead to them being charged higher rates.
Such objections must be lodged within a specified time period after the GVR is opened for inspection and can only be lodged against a specific individual property valuation and not against the valuation roll.
The process begins when you lodge an objection with the CoJ, giving reasons for doing so. Objection forms can be downloaded from the CoJ website or obtained from its offices.
Your objection will then be assessed by the Municipal Valuer, who will notify you of its success or not. If your objection is found to be valid, your property will be revalued. If your objection is rejected, you can appeal to the Valuations Appeal Board within 30 days.
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.
If the Appeals Board rejects your appeal and you still believe that you are correct, you will probably need the help of an attorney to take the matter further, most likely in the courts. See http://www.schindlers.co.za/
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET A DECISION AND DO I HAVE TO PAY RATES WHILE I WAIT?
Depending on the nature of the objection/appeal and how quickly the CoJ responds, it can take anything from two months to two years to resolve a valuations matter.
During this time, Schindlers Attorneys advises, you are responsible for all municipal rates charged and should pay in full, even if the amounts you are being charged are more than you would expect to pay if your objection / appeal were to succeed.
Only if your objection / appeal has been lodged and you have not received notification of the outcome within the prescribed time period can you log a query / dispute with the COJ. 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 an Appeals 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 in the three-month period immediately before you lodged your objection).
It is very important to note that if you do not pay any rates at all, or pay less than the three months average, your query / dispute will become invalid and fall away, allowing the CoJ to take legal action against you to recover any outstanding amounts.