Rates up after property reevaluation? Object, but do it properly


"The mere lodging of an objection, however ill-founded, does not trigger an obligation to furnish detailed reasons for the underlying decision relating to the valuation of the property" (extract from judgment below)

Your local municipality is entitled to revalue your property (with reference to recent sales of similar properties in your area) at regular intervals.

Of course any upward valuation means more money out of your pocket every month because the rates you pay are arrived at by multiplying your property's municipal valuation with the municipality's current "rates factor" as set by it in its budgeting process.

Municipal valuers must, at least every four years, prepare a general valuation roll with particulars of each property as at the date of valuation, and you must be given notice that you can lodge an objection.

This is of course your chance to convince the municipality that its valuation is wrong; just be sure to lodge your objection within the specified time limit, in the specified format, and with sufficient detail.

A terse exchange; and a botched objection

A recent High Court case shows clearly the danger of neglecting the part about giving enough detail

  • A property owner Trust's objection to a revaluation gave as the reason for objection: "Subject property has been vacant for 18 months. Market has declined therefore the market value of my property should also be reduced."
  • The municipality dismissed the objection and, when asked for reasons, replied in equally terse fashion: "The information submitted by the objector is insufficient to justify a change in valuation."
  • The trust asked the Court to order the municipality to give "adequate reasons" for dismissing the objection.

Give full reasons or fail

The Court held against the property owner, commenting that: "This was an objection in the tersest of terms in which no particular challenge was raised to the conduct of the valuation by the municipal valuer as is provided for in terms of the Rates Act...No substantive information was submitted to challenge or dispute the valuation that had been undertaken".

The message is clear - just lodging your objection isn't enough to force the municipality to give detailed reasons for its valuation. You need to word your objection properly and fully to achieve that.