Do you live on a double stand? If so, you might be in for a nasty shock. The City of Johannesburg’s valuations department has suddenly initiated a process whereby each stand now receives a separate valuation, even when the double stand only contains a single dwelling.
Let me break it down for you, according to my personal situation. I live on a double stand in Highlands North (2 different ERF numbers). As such, in the eyes of the law, I own two separate properties held under a single title deed. However, my house is built across both stands and, therefore, the property cannot be subdivided.
It seems that many of the older suburbs were set up like this. And for the past 70 years or so, there wasn’t any problem. I simply received two invoices from the City – one for each stand. The first invoice contained an amount for rates, based on the valuation roll. The second invoice contained billing for water, lights, sewerage and other services but did not reflect an amount for rates (the stand was valued at zero).
This makes sense. I own one house, so I should pay once for rates. Yes? Well, apparently not. Last month, my second stand abruptly reflected a valuation of R1.2 million, with an associated fee. This is in addition to my original municipal valuation on the first stand. In effect, that means I am now paying two amounts for rates based on a property that can only be sold as a single unit.
It seems that the long-term solution to this ‘double rates’ problem is to have my two stands ‘notarily linked’, but this is a legal process that takes time and can cost several thousand rand. I was looking for a more immediate solution to what seemed to be a simple misunderstanding – it’s just common sense, isn’t it?
So, I spoke to the valuations department and they were quite helpful. My query has been sent through to various authorities and I am awaiting an outcome. I’d like to thank all the people I contacted for replying to my emails promptly and trust that, together, we can work it out.
However, this begs a larger question: what about all the other people who are living on double stands? Will they have to lodge their own individual queries, or will the department make a correction that applies to everyone? I don’t know the answer to this question but I am concerned – being the stout, civic-minded chap that I am…
So, if you live on a double stand, check your statements. And if you are getting charged double rates, please get in touch by posting a comment below. My ward councillor has suggested that, legally, the valuations department cannot just change a dispensation that has been in effect for decades. As such, a court challenge may be in order.
I truly hope that the whole mess can be sorted out without dragging lawyers into the fray, but I have been advised to start collecting a list of names of similarly affected home owners – just in case. So, do let me know if you’re in the same boat and I’ll try to ensure that we approach this affair with intelligence and cohesion. I thank you [takes bow to tremendous applause, leaves room].