Joburg pensioners have been granted a three month reprieve in which to apply for a rates rebate.
Those who failed to meet the June 30 deadline to apply for a rebates rebate now have until September 30 to apply and, if approved, the rebates will be backdated to July 1.
However, many pensioners, who formerly paid zero rates, will be forced to pay the new rates, as the objections to their new property rates will only be finalised at the end of January.
The threshold of property values for qualifying pensioners has been increased from R2 million to R2.5m.
The City of Joburg confirmed that the applications of all pensioners who submitted a request, and have not been notified of receipt, will be considered.
Member of the mayoral committee for finance Funzela Ngobeni said the city would endeavour to communicate results to the pensioners using the information on the application form.
Pensioners who have objected to their increased property valuations, and who no longer qualify for the pensioner rebate, will have their applications held back until a decision is made by the municipal valuer.
Thereafter, the applications will be reconsidered, with the qualifying applications backdated to July 1, 2018.
The city earlier this year unveiled its 2018 general valuation roll, which caused a huge outcry, with some properties’ value being increased by 5 000%.
Ngobeni said 50 595 objections were being considered by the municipal valuer.
“Admittedly, the valuation 2018 process was not without its challenges, and for this we would like to apologise to our residents,” added Ngobeni.
The objections will be finalised by February 2019.
“The city will ensure no credit management processes will be initiated against objectors, provided their accounts were not in arrears on June 30. Residents who have lodged objections must continue to make payments on their rates accounts, as prescribed by the law.”
Where an objection to the new property valuation is declined, any outstanding rates on the property arising from the valuation will become due and payable immediately, the MMC said.
In the instances where an objection is approved, the relevant account will be adjusted accordingly.
All properties categorised as agricultural residential are advised to apply for a rebate, currently set at 10% of the property value.
All previous rebates ended on June 30.
Many pensioners, however, remain concerned.
Barry Lamont of Folkestone Downs said he made his application to the city through its website and received notification of receipt, but has unsuccessfully tried to follow up since to get a reference number.
“They never answer the phone. On occasion I waited up to 35 minutes, with the call being switched every now and again, I guess to some other division, but still no answer. It’s very frustrating. Being home-bound, I unfortunately cannot go in to any of the centres,” he said.
Terance Meyer of Blairgowrie said: “I am sure that there must be hundreds, if not thousands, of pensioners all over the city in the same situation I am in, with rates having soared from zero to a total of R1 855, including Pikitup fees.
“I am over 70 and had zero rates under the old valuation – only paying Pikitup charges.”
Meyer said he filled in a petition asking for the pensioner rebate to be increased from R2.5m to R3m.
“It’s a great pity that the council has not agreed to this – an increase in 1 855% in rates is massive for us pensioners. I did get an estate agent in, who valued the property realistically, and under the R2.5m ceiling, but the objection process may not be finalised until January.
“A great many people are going to be hurt financially if we have to wait until January to get some relief – if at all. If I do not pay the new full rate my bill will have escalated to R13 000 by January,” he added.
Application forms can be obtained from any customer service centre; the city’s website: www.joburg.org.za; or it can be emailed upon the provision of an email address.