It is not unusual to run into some unexpected hurdles when trying to obtain a rates clearance certificate from the municipality.
This certificate is needed before a property can be successfully transferred from the seller to the buyer.
In this article, we share steps that you can take if you are experiencing issues when trying to obtain your RCC or rates clearance figures.
If your municipality is taking an unreasonably long time, or refusing to issue the RCC or correct figures, you may need to seek assistance from an attorney, who will compel the municipality fulfill their duties.
Another option would be to log a query with the municipality, however, turnaround time for the resolution of such a query can be quite long. The length of time it takes to resolve such queries may place the sale of your property in jeopardy.
If you have tried alternative methods to resolve any queries logged with the municipality, and it has not been resolved within 30 days, we advise that you take legal action.
Your attorney will follow the correct procedure by first sending a letter of demand to the municipality. The letter of demand must contain specific information in order for it to be accepted legally.
This letter will instruct the municipality to either issue the figures or adjust the account before issuing the correct figures. It will also provide a timeframe within which the municipality must fulfill the demands.
If the issue is not resolved within the allocated timeframe, your attorney may advise you to take the matter to court. In this case, your attorney will put together the necessary documents which will set into motion the legal proceedings and will then serve them to the municipality in question.
The municipality will then be given a specific period of time to decide if it will defend the matter and if so, file the relevant documents explaining its defense.
Once the municipality has filed its defense and, depending on how the litigation goes, you will have another opportunity to respond to the municipality’s defense and only after this, will the matter be brought to court.
It can take up to three months or longer for the exchange of documents between your attorney and the municipality to take place.
It may take an additional 2-4 months to get a date for the court to hear the matter. With this is mind, it’s important to start legal proceedings as soon as possible.
Legal proceedings can be quite costly so it’s important to weigh this up before you begin. However, if the matter is not defended by the municipality, or if it settles the matter early in the proceedings, it may cost just a few thousand rand.
The lengthier the process, the more it will cost, and this will also depend on the attorney you use and how much work is required to settle the matter among other factors.
Under normal circumstances, the courts will order that the winning party be compensated for their legal expenses by the other party. Generally, the successful litigant will recoup between 50% and 60% of their legal costs. In some cases, the court may order that the successful litigant receive 100% compensation of their legal costs incurred during the proceedings.
Our conveyancing attorneys in South Africa are available to assist you with legal proceedings related to obtaining your RCC and figures from your municipality.
For more information about our comprehensive legal services, please contact us.
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