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CITY APPEALS TO SECTIONAL TITLE PROPERTY OWNERS TO CONFIRM THEIR ACCOUNT NUMBER AND ADDRESS DETAILS

Date:        27 July 2008

The City’s Rates & Taxes Directorate says it has gathered only one third of the city’s total number of Sectional Title property addresses and, as a result, many Sectional Title property owners have not received their rates account for July and August.

The City implemented the Municipal Property Rates Act from 1 July this year. The Act requires each Sectional Title property owner to receive an individual rates account.

The rates account sent to individual owners includes rates, sewage and refuse collection charges (since charges for sewage and refuse collection are now based on the rates of a particular property).

“We have about 156 000 Sectional Title properties in the City and, despite our best efforts, we have managed to gather only about 50 000 addresses for Sectional Title property owners so far,” says Erika Naude, the City’s director for Rates & Taxes.  “And of the 50 000 we received, much of the information was not usable as it did not have all the information we require.”

A further 15 000 addresses cannot be loaded onto the City’s billing system as they are not registered on the City’s GIS system. “And registering the property on the City’s GIS system is the first step in creating a rates account for a property. Without the registration here, we cannot proceed to load the address,” she says.

“Another complication is that many of the addresses we received did not have the complete information. So, for example, we got some addresses that indicated the unit number and the complex name but not the street address. Or we got a complex name and a street address but not a unit number,” says Naude.

To complicate matters further, many owners have sold their sectional title properties in the period from the date the data was gathered for the Valuation Roll and when the data was actually incorporated into the City’s billing system.

“So in many cases, an account may have been issued but the name in which it was issued is now incorrect,” says Naude.

“Due to the type of billing process we have we were also only able to load up the new accounts for Sectional Title property owners from 1 July. We couldn’t do it prior to that. When we did load it, we found the problems mentioned above which is why we were not able to load many of the addresses we had received,” she says.

Naude says the impact on Sectional Title customers is more than expected. “But we expected some teething problems given that this is new legislation and a completely new system we are implementing for the first time,” she says. “We apologise to our customers and fully understand their frustration. We advised them that they are liable for their rates account from July – and then we were not able to generate the accounts due to the many issues that we encountered. We are equally frustrated by the delays in getting statements out. I believe the City has run an excellent programme in implementing the Municipal Property Rates Act.  We believed we had covered all contingencies… but we hadn’t counted on getting wrong information, and not having the information we received recognized by our GIS system.”

Naude says she and her colleagues have been working around the clock to address and resolve the issues, and progress is being made. “We still need our customers who own Sectional Title properties to assist us to ensure that we have their addresses and that they have received their account number.”

Naude says Sectional Title property owners who have not yet received an account should contact Joburg Connect at (011) 375 5555 or email joburgconnect@joburg.org.za and register a query indicating you have not yet received your account. “The call centre agent will need an ID number, a name, your unit number and the name of your complex to look up your new rates account number,” she says. “With the number, an owner will be able to make payment by internet or by at any Easypay outlet, the SA Post Office, or in cash at any of the City’s Customer Service Centers.”

In order for the City to be able to send monthly statements, we need a current postal address and contact details. “So if you have moved or changed your postal address, please notify us timeously in writing,” says Naude. “You can also download a form from our website at www.joburg.org.za (select the option for e-services and follow the prompts to download forms); complete it and send it to us by e-mail to statements@joburg.org.za or fax us at 011 381 9377.”