By Chantelle Gladwin-Wood, Partner
Property valuation rolls are quite complicated. Below is a brief explanation of how valuations and valuation rolls work.
Bitou’s 2017 General Valuation Roll
The Bitou Municipality (“Bitou”) 2017 General Valuation Roll (“2017 GV”) was released for public inspection and comment from 21 February 2017 to 24 March 2017. This is closed and unless you file a s 78 objection, changes cannot be made to this roll. Please contact us if you need more information on section 78 objections.
What is a valuation roll and where do I find it?
This is a database in which Bitou stores the municipal valuations of all properties recorded on that particular roll. Every property in Bitou should (hypothetically) be on a general roll, but because properties are continuously coming into existence and ceasing to exist, and as such 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 (4 to 5 years in Bitou), 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 information on the valuation roll is used to calculate your rates and taxes each month.
Bitou’s Supplementary 2 Roll (2017 GV)
Bitou has now released its Supplementary 2 Roll for the 2017 GV (“Supp 2”). The Supp 2 roll is open for comment and objection 14 February 2019 until the 18th March 2019. It can be inspected physically at Bitou’s offices or it can be accessed electronically on the website: http://www.bitou.gov.za/2nd-supplementary-valuation-roll-20182019.
The proposed Supp 2 valuation and categorisation of your property
If your property is on this roll, Bitou should give you notice. 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, the exist and proposed categorizations, and where you can inspect the contents of such roll. These rolls contain only municipal valuations, categorisations and the other pieces of information listed above; they do not contain reasons for the valuations and categorisations.
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 and categorisation accorded to your property. If you are not happy, you should to object. See the section below on objecting for more information.
Even if you have not received notice, it is imperative that you check whether your property is on the roll, because if it is and you miss the time period to object you might incur inflated rates charges.
Note that Bitou’s failure to send you a notice telling you that your property is appearing on a roll, does not exempt you as the property owner of your obligation in law to check the roll and see whether you are happy with your property details as they appear thereon.
Whose responsibility is it to check the roll?
It is the responsibility of every property owner to check every roll and determine whether the municipal property valuation and categorisation ascribed to their respective properties are correct, and if not, to submit an objection before the closure of the objection period. Failure to do this will result in the value and categorisation ascribed to your property pertaining for the balance of the duration of 2017 General Valuation Roll (until 30 June 2021).
What are my valuation and categorisation for my property?
Every property is supposed to have a municipal valuation ascribed to it by the municipal valuer. You should see a value, represented in Rands, somewhere on your statement. This is the property valuation that the Bitou has ascribed to your property for the purposes of the current 2017 GV (which ends 30 June 2021).
Similarly, every property is meant to have a rating categorisation ascribed to it by the municipal valuer. This should also appear somewhere on your statement. Sometimes it is difficult to find, because only the first few letters of the category appear – eg RES instead of “residential”. Look near the rates charges. The category is chosen by the municipal valuer from a list of categories that are set out in the Bitou’s Rates Policy, and for each category there is a corresponding tariff (a rate in the rand price). For example, business properties pay on average several times more than residential properties, and vacant and “illegal use” properties pay more than business properties, because their tariffs are higher. Bitou’s 2019 rates policy can be accessed here: http://www.bitou.gov.za/sites/default/files/documents/C%202%2093%2005%2018%20Annexure%20D%20i%20Property%20Rates%20Policy-%20Review%20for%202018-2019%20Budget%20%28003%29_1.pdf
Why do the valuation statements and categorisation matter?
The amount that Bitou charges you for rates each month, is based on your municipal valuation multiplied by the tariff (rate in the rand price) that applies to the categorisation that you have been placed into. If the valuation is too high, you will pay too much for rates. If the categorisation is wrong, you will pay the incorrect amount for rates. For example, if your property is residential in nature but you are categorised as business, you will pay several times the amount that a residential property with the same municipal valuation that is categorised as ‘residential’ will pay.
The municipal valuation should be “market value”. Market value is explained below. For the 2017 GV and Supp 2, the date at which your property should be valued, is 1 July 2016.
What is market value and how can I determine what it is?
‘Market value’ is generally explained as the price that a willing buyer would pay a willing seller on the open market for a property. However, there are a number of different methods that can be used to calculate market value. The most commonly used methods include the comparative sales method, the income yield method, and the depreciated cost method. The nature of these calculations are complex, and are usually done by professional valuers at a cost.
However, you can ask your local estate agent for an estimation as to the market value of your property, based on comparative sales and the agent’s experience of what the property would sell for in the area concerned. Agents don’t charge for providing these estimations.
You can also extract “automated valuation reports” from a number of different software packages designed to estimate market value, such as Windeed. However, in some instances there will not be enough information available on the system to arrive at an estimated valuation, and because these reports are automated and there is no human interaction involved whatsoever, any subjective features of a property that would enhance or negatively affect its value are not taken into account. This can render the accuracy of these kinds of valuations less effective than valuers’ or agents’ valuations.
The general principle is that the higher the market value of the property, the more likely you will be to need to involve a professional valuer (at a cost) to assist you. The costs of incorrectly estimating your own property value can be significant, because of the time that it takes to resolve disputes regarding the valuation and the charges and interest that are billed while that dispute is pending, as well as the potential costs involved if it becomes necessary to involve attorneys.
Valuers can also advise you of the most appropriate rating categorisation for your property, but in a complex dispute you may need to approach an attorney that specialises in this type of law, within the jurisdiction of Bitou, for assistance.
What do I do if my property valuation is not in line with the market value or if my categorisation is incorrect?
If you are of the opinion that your municipal property value is higher than market value or your rating categorisation is inappropriate, you can lodge an objection with Bitou against the information contained on Supp 2, giving reasons for same. The municipal valuer will then assess your objection, and notify you of the outcome of same. If Bitou finds that your objection is valid, it will revalue and/or re-categorise 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/categorisation will remain unchanged.
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 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?
If there has been an error in the calculating of your valuation or your category is wrong, you can still approach Bitou’s Valuations Department to rectify this error outside of the prescribed time periods for objections in terms of section 78 of the relevant Act. However, this is a lengthy process, and slightly different rules apply. More information on this process can be obtained by emailing email@example.com.
- You can contact Schindlers Attorneys for assistance, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephonically at (011) 448 9600. Please ask for the Municipal Law Department if you phone in.
- We do assist clients with checking their property information on the roll as well as lodging objections/appeals etc. at our normal rates. Where possible we can assist with discounts for bulk instructions.