Case Law

"The importance of informing owners of new valuations was confirmed in two recent cases."

The importance of informing owners of new valuations was confirmed in two recent cases.

Astirshell No. 14 CC and other v Victor Khanye Local Municipality

The applicants sought an order for the review and setting aside of the valuations imposed by the Victor Kanye Local Municipality, as unlawful and invalid.

The Municipality compiled a new general valuation roll for the period 2019 to 2024, which was implemented on 1 July 2019.

The applicants alleged that they were unaware of the increases in their properties’ valuations until 16 September 2019. They addressed correspondences to the Municipality; however, these were never acknowledged. The applicants never received any notice of the increases in the values.

The issues in this matter are whether there was compliance with the MPRA, in particular Sections 48 and 49, and whether the application was brought prematurely as contended by the Respondent.

The Municipality failed to give proper notice of the upcoming Valuation Roll in terms of Section 49 of the MPRA. There was also no meaningful community participation as required by Section 49 (1) (b) which provides that the Municipal Manager must disseminate the substance of the notice that the general valuation roll was open for inspection and objection.

As stated in Lombardy Development (Pty) Ltd and Others v City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality and Another, a strikingly similar matter to this case, a municipality as an organ of state, has a duty to disclose the internal information and documentation in litigation in order to provide that it has complied with the law.

The Municipality had failed to comply with Section 49 of the MPRA by not notifying the owners of properties of their intended changes.

People must be given an opportunity to participate in decisions which will affect them and, crucially, a chance to influence the outcome of these decisions. Notice to potentially affected parties, and the opportunity to be heard on decisions affecting them, acts to reduce their potential for arbitrariness and promotes dignity because people feel that their points of view have been heard and taken into account by the decision maker, even if the decision does not go their way.

Section 49 required notices in the Provincial Gazette and once a week for two consecutive weeks in the media. The notice must be served on every owner of property listed in the valuation roll together with an extract from the roll pertaining to that owner’s property. If the Municipality has a website, the notice must be published on that website.

In this case, there were no publications in the media and no notice was given at all to individual property owners under Section 49(1)(c).

The order was that the decision of the municipality to increase the values be reviewed and set aside as being unlawful and invalid.

To read the full judgement, click here.

Central University of Technology Free State v Mangaung Municipality and others

The applicant (Central University of Technology Free State) sought declaratory relief and the review of the Municipality’s decisions relating to the valuation and levying of rates of their immovable properties for the period 2017 to 2020. It was contended that these decisions were subject to the doctrine of legality as they failed to comply with the statutory requirements.

The dispute between these parties has its genesis in the 2017 valuation roll which determined the categorisation and market value of the applicant’s properties.

The applicant never received a notice of the increase of the market value, nor that the category of the property would be “business and commercial”.

It was the order of the court that the failure to comply with section 49(1)(c) of MPRA renders the 2017 valuation roll unenforceable against the applicant.

The order further stated that the categorisation of the properties was unlawful, and it was set aside.

To read the full judgement, click here.

Municipalities must take cognisance of these rulings and must ensure that they serve the section 49 notices on every property owner. They can no longer rely on postal services to deliver these notices and should use other modes of communication, such as e-mail and WhatsApp, to ensure compliance with the MPRA.

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