Your vacant garden plot and municipal property rates | Legal Articles

 

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Your vacant garden plot and municipal property rates

Your residential home may be comprised of more than one erf. One erf may have a house built on it while the other erf may be vacant and simply form part of the garden.

The question now arises as to how property rates and other services are charged on erven that do not have residential structures but which still form part of a person’s residential property.

Municipal property rates - Property law

Firstly it is important to distinguish where all of the erven are notarially tied, as opposed to where they are not.

What is a notarial tie?

A notarial tie is an act of property registration that happens in the Deeds Office in terms of which erven that share a common border and located in the same suburb are bound together. Individual erven cannot be sold to third parties individually without the others that they are tied to it.

To create a notarial tie you will need consent from your local authority and the help of a Conveyancer to draft and register the notarial tie agreement against the title deeds of the properties concerned. 

If there is a bond over the properties, the bondholders’ consent will also be required before the notarial tie can be registered.

In most instances the registration of a notarial tie agreement against the title deeds of the properties concerned will result in the value of the properties dropping, this is due to the properties no longer being capable of being sold off individually.

Where there is a notarial tie.

If the various erven are notarially tied it is normally the policy of the municipality to treat them as one consolidated erf.

The result is that the homeowner will only be charged once for rates (calculated on the collective value of all the erven) in connection with one account, usually in respect of the erf the house sits, as well as once for refuse removal services, sewer services and water and electricity services, at the residential rate.

This prevents the duplication of charges for sewer and refuse services on the consolidated erf.

If this policy is not applied and each of the erven were treated individually as if they were not notarially tied together and forms part of one dwelling, each stand would then receive a separate rates account with property rates based only on the value of the stand, together with all other charges such as refuse collection and sewer availability charges.

In some cases the municipality will charge the property owner for electricity and water services to that erf where the garden is situated on.

The result is that the vacant garden erf will be classified as “vacant” rather than “residential” and services will be charged at vacant land rates which is substantially higher.

How do I rectify this situation?

Firstly determine whether the properties are in fact notarially tied. 

If they are, you need to lodge a Section 48 inquiry with the municipality’s Valuation Department requesting the municipality to consider all the erven as one erf and to charge services to the erf the house is situated on and at residential rates.

This should trigger the property appearing on the next property valuation roll, which will allow the property owner to lodge an objection to the manner in which the properties are classified (in this case being classified as vacant).

Van Deventer & Van Deventer Inc - Property Law Attorneys 

The manner in which the municipality charges for rates and services in relation to homes that consist of more than one erf is very complex. 

Should you require any further information please contact Van Deventer & Van Deventer Attorneys.
 

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