WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE DEBT RELIEF PROGRAMME
The City recognises the financial burden that some customers face. It has therefore re-instated the Debt Relief Programme, effective from 01 October 2023. The programme will end on 31 December 2023.
The programme benefits residential and business customers and also includes non-profit organisations. It, however, excludes government institutions and parastatals.
HOW DO I QUALIFY?
The above categories of customers’ debt must be 90 days or older. A down payment of 5% for residential and 10% for business customers must be made. An agreement will be signed, and the accumulated interest will be written off. Customers have up to 36 months to settle all outstanding debt.
Once the arrangement is made, customers have to honour it. If a customer defaults on payment or pays less than the required instalment, all written-off interest will be reinstated.
Customers may approach their nearest Sizakala Centre for more information and are encouraged to provide all supporting documentation when applying for the programme.
With regards to NPOs, the programme benefits Old Age and Disabled Homes, Mental Hospitals, Early Childhood Development Centres, and others. They will be granted a substantial 50% capital debt write-off once they enter into a payment arrangement. This benefit is conditional on these organisations not falling into arrears within a period of 12 months after settling their debts.
HOW CAN I BECOME A BENEFICIARY?
Visit your nearest Sizakala Centre for more information.
As a caring City, the eThekwini Municipality has implemented their Indigent policy which aims to assist struggling residents.
In 2000, the government announced that it would implement a Free Basic Services (FBS) Policy to ensure a basic level of water, sanitation and electricity to poor households who could not afford to pay for them. FBS has expanded over the years, with various national departments producing sector specific policies and strategies for the implementation of FBS. Some of these national polices and strategies refer to minimum standards, but municipalities are encouraged to provide more than the minimum if fiscally sustainable. With this in mind, the eThekwini Municipality developed the Indigent policy, adopted in the current financial year.
At the tabling of the report to Council earlier this year, eThekwini Mayor Councillor Mxolisi Kaunda said this is a clear demonstration that eThekwini is a caring Municipality. “We welcome this policy and give our full support for it moving forward.”
The benefits outlined in the policy include free basic electricity supply, 6kl of free water, sewage disposal for water usage below 300 litres per day, free refuse removal, and rates rebates based on property value. The policy also covers indigent support for child-headed households subject to certain conditions, as well as for indigent households in life right schemes and retirement complexes, as well as for deceased estates.
In order to qualify for the benefits of this programme, certain criteria apply:
1. General Criteria
An application must be made in the prescribed form;
The applicant must be a South African citizen or be a permanent South African resident;
Reside permanently in the municipal area and be the full-time occupant of the property concerned;
Total household income must not exceed the total household income determined by Council at its annual budget meeting;
The applicant must be registered with the Municipality for services and/or assessment rates;
The property must be used for residential purposes only and must not constitute a piece of land or a flat within a Share block scheme;
The municipal value of the property must not exceed the maximum value as determined by council at its annual budget meeting;
An applicant who resides in an informal settlement may be eligible to qualify for basic municipal services. In such instance, the applicant must meet all the criteria and household income will be assessed on the income of the applicant and all other occupants older than 18 years who reside in the actual dwelling.
Documentary proof must be produced that they cannot pay for basic municipal services or assessment rates, by providing a valid current UIF card, bank statements, proof of income, letter from employer etc. The CFO has the right to call for additional documents in his discretion;
The applicant must not be the registered owner of more than one property within South Africa (registered individually or jointly) or elsewhere;
The applicant must not be an employee in the service of the State;
The applicant must not be engaged in doing business with the State either in a personal capacity or as a director, manager, principal shareholder or stakeholder of a juristic entity (a PBO excluded).
In the case of a RDP house, the occupier must provide proof confirming that it is lawfully occupied;
2. Child-headed households may also qualify for indigent support, as special cases, subject to the following conditions:
Compliance with the general criteria
The indigent application form is signed and completed by the oldest minor with the assistance of the appointed legal guardian;
The services account of the deceased parents (where applicable) is closed;
Where services are required, the oldest minor signs a services agreement, assisted by the appointed legal guardian;
The property is not occupied by any adult persons other than by the child-headed household;
The status of the child-headed household is reviewed at least on annual basis by a social welfare officer in the employ of the Municipality or the Department of Social Development;
In the case of a property that is registered in the name of deceased parents (either individually or jointly), the estate(s) must be reported to the Master of the High Court within one year of date of approval of the indigent application in order to further participate in the Municipality’s annual indigent programme and proof of the death of both parents must be provided, a valid identity document of the appointed legal guardian is provided; a certified copy of the birth certificate of the minor applicant is provided and, where applicable, a valid identity document.
3. Indigent Households in Life Rights Schemes and Retirement Complexes
A customer may be eligible for indigent support in terms of this policy, subject to compliance with the general qualifying criteria, where basic municipal services are charged to them directly. A copy of the title deeds of the property containing an endorsement as contemplated in the Housing Development Schemes for Retired Person’s Act, 1986 (Act No.65 of 1988) must be lodged with an application of indigent support.
4. Deceased Estates
Where the deceased estate of a registered customer is still being finalized, the widow or widower may apply for indigent support, subject to the following conditions:
The general qualifying criteria are complied with;
Proof of the death of the deceased customer is provided;
Proof of the reporting of the deceased estate to the Master of the High Court is provided, a certified copy of the marriage certificate is provided;
where property is registered in the name of the deceased customer and no legal representative of the deceased estate has been appointed after a period of 24 months calculated from date of approval of the application, the applicant must produce an affidavit explaining any impediments to such appointment and the steps taken to resolve this, in order to qualify for ongoing benefits under the policy
After the death of a registered indigent
The status quo in respect of basic municipal services provided to such indigent under this policy shall remain in place until the end of the municipal financial year for which the basic municipal services were granted.
The criteria in respect of ongoing rates relief, shall be informed by the Rates Policy.
Nothing, however, precludes a deceased spouse from applying for indigent support in their own name during the remainder of the municipal financial year.
The City’s Revenue Management Unit aims to always simplify processes so customers are able to transact accordingly. Hence, various payment methods have been implemented to ensure safe and efficient payment of your municipal bill.
CHECKING YOUR BALANCE AND RECEIVING NOTIFICATIONS ONLY: Via the Internet: Query your account balance here (please note that this database is only updated once a month) Sign up for electronic notification of accounts here
Long regarded as the safest and most convenient payment method. More than 33 000 current customers have authorised an automatic deduction from a nominated bank account each month in payment of each Metro bill. For this option, customers only need to ensure that sufficient funds are available in their bank account on the agreed date each month. No further effort is necessary, and customers need not be concerned about making these monthly payments. Maximum withdrawal limits are set by the customer. All customers who have bank accounts are encouraged to consider moving to the debit method.
Customers can apply for a direct debit via eServices, alternately contact the Revenue Department (Tel 031 324 5000) and the application form will be provided.
There has been growth in the number of business and residential customers opting to pay their bills via the internet or electronic transfer facilities that are being offered by the various banking institutions.
However, customers who use this payment option are reminded that payment receipt is not instantaneous, and several days delay can occur between the customer’s payment authorisation and the Department receiving the funds via the banking institution.
It is absolutely vital that the customer’s name and account number are correctly included in the authorisation instructions. If these are missing or incorrectly recorded, the account will NOT be credited, and the customer will be in arrears.
Masterpass is an online facility that allows customers to make payments from their mobile devices at their convenience. This facility is available to all eServices customers, and requires a customer to download their bank’s Masterpass app in order to “Scan to Pay”. Masterpass is also available via the eThekwini Municipality app whereby a customer can view their latest and click “Pay Bills” which will direct the customer to their bank’s Masterpass app to complete the payment.
SA Post Office:
Bills can be paid at any post office facility throughout the country, and this option is widely used. Most payments made are received within a day or two - and this method has proved to be popular for the payment of current bills.
Payment at retail outlets:
Bills can be paid through our third-party collectors at the following retail outlets:
1. Pick n Pay
4. Shoprite U-Save
8. Cambridge Food
9. Flash retail outlets
13. Rhino Cash & Carry
15. Top It Up
These facilities are ideal for our customers who like to pay their bills outside normal office hours. Please note that credit card payments are also accepted at these venues.
The Revenue Banking Halls and Sizakala Centres have Cashiers and payments can be made at these offices using cash or debit card facilities. Payments made at these paypoints are processed promptly onto the billing system. Customers who are already in arrears with an account payment and fear immediate disconnection of services are urged to use these facilities for payment.
We currently have debit card facilities available at the following offices:
What is the Municipal Property Rates Act? In the past each province has valued and rated property under its own legislation. Some have valued land only whilst others have valued both land and buildings. There have also been various methods of valuation prescribed including market value and depreciated replacement cost.
The Municipal Property Rates Act is national legislation which has been introduced in order to provide nationwide uniformity, simplicity and certainty as well as to take into account the historical imbalances and rates burden on the poor.
What is the Purpose of the Municipal Property Rates Act?
To regulate the power of a municipality to impose rates on property
To make provision for municipalities to implement a transparent and fair system of exemptions , reductions and rebates through their rating policy
To make provision for fair and equitable valuation methods of properties
To make provision for an objections and appeals process to the market valuations
To ensure people are rated in a fair and equitable manner
What are the main features of the Municipal Property Rates Act? Property will now be valued on the market valuation ie the price that a willing buyer and willing seller agree on the individual units within a sectional title complex will now be rated and each unit will receive its own rates Bill. More flexibility in granting relief to the poor, medically boarded persons and pensioners. More flexibility in rating different categories of property
What is the basis of property valuation under the Municipal Property Rates Act? Property must be valued at market value, which is the amount the property would have realized if sold on the date of valuation in the open market by a willing seller to a willing buyer.
What is meant by the date of valuation? This is a date set by the municipality to which all values relate. The values must reflect the market value of the properties in accordance with the market conditions which applied at that date. The current date of valuation has been set at 1 July 2007.
What happens when the market changes? The Act provides that the municipality must set a new date and re-value all properties at least once in every four years.
What does the Municipal Property Rates Act mean to me? The valuation placed on your property under the new Act will be more understandable and equitable in that it will equate to what your property is actually worth.
How does it differ from what has been happening in the past in eThekwini Municipality? Previously land was valued at market value whilst buildings were valued at replacement cost less depreciation in respect of age and condition.
This resulted in two identical houses in different parts of the municipality having substantially the same municipal value in respect of the building value component with the only difference being in the value of the underlying land. In reality however these two properties could sell for vastly different prices depending on the neighbourhood in which each is located.
Why has my property value gone up so much? The previous revaluation of properties was indexed to 01 January 1998 whilst the valuation date for this valuation is 1 July 2007. This is a period of nine and a half years during which property prices have escalated.
My property hasn’t sold in 20 years, how was it valued? By reference to similar properties in the neighbourhood that have sold.
What criteria was used to assess property values? Market valuations are based on transactions between willing buyers and willing sellers and the factors that influence these transactions.
Were different finishes such as tiles and fitted kitchens taken into account in the valuation? There are many factors which influence the value of a property and these can broadly be broken down into location, size of property, extent and type of buildings, quality and condition.
It must be mentioned that any exercise involving data-collection should always take cognizance of the ability to maintain the integrity of this information. There would be little point in collecting information on those aspects of a property that may be legally changed by the owner without the necessity of having to submit building plans and thus alert the municipality to these changes.
Sectional Title Properties
How will properties held under sectional title be treated? In terms of the Municipal Property Rates Act each registered sectional title unit must be separately valued and a separate rates account sent to each individual registered owner. Rates will therefore no longer be the concern of the body corporate.
How does this differ from what has been happening in the past? Previously sectional title units were not valued separately and a single value was assessed for the entire property. Rates were accordingly raised on the entire property and a single rates account was sent to the body corporate, which had to apportion this account between the individual unit holders and collect the amounts owing by way of a levy.
How will the new system benefit owners of sectional title units? There are many cases where some unit holders have failed to pay their levies and consequently the rates for the entire block have fallen into arrears. Previously, the municipality could only hold the body corporate liable and as a last resort would have to attach and sell the entire property in order to recover the rates. This was unfair on those unit holders who had regularly paid their levies.
Under the new system sectional title unit holders are individually responsible for their own rates and only those owners who do not pay will be in danger of having their individual units attached and sold. It is important to note however that rates and any arrears owing up to the 30 June 2008 will remain the responsibility of the Body Corporate
How will the common property in sectional title schemes be valued? By definition, a sectional title unit is a section together with its undivided share in the common property. Common property therefore does not have a separate value in the market place, its value being inherent in the value of each unit.
How will account be taken of differences between the various units in a scheme? Individual units in sectional title schemes will be valued at what they would sell for on the open market. Valuers do not create value but merely interpret the market by analyzing sales and, thus, if sales show that there are price differences between various units within the same scheme because of size, view or other reason, then such differences will be taken into account when valuing the various units.
Why have a rates policy? Section 3 of the Municipal Rates Act requires a Municipality to adopt a rates policy
Why do we charge rates? Municipalities need a reliable source of revenue to provide basic services and perform their functions. Revenue from property rates is used to fund services that benefit the community as a whole.
These include: constructing and maintaining streets, roads, sidewalks, street lighting, and storm drainage facilities; building and operating clinics, parks, recreational facilities and cemeteries beaches, libraries and the administration of the municipality .
Who pays rates? Rates are paid by all owners of property whether residential, commercial, sectional title unit owners and even the Government.
How do we calculate rates? Property rates are calculated on the value of the property. The Property Rates Act requires that this value must be the “Market Value”. Rates are calculated by multiplying the market value of immovable property by a cent amount in the Rand which is determined from the budget.
For example: If the market value of immovable property is R 140 000, and the cent amount in the Rand is R0.015 (which is 1.5 cent), then amount due for property rates = R 140 000 x 0.015 = R 2 100 for the whole year, which means that every month the property owner will pay R 175.00 (this is calculated by dividing R 2 100 by 12 as rates payable is spread over 12 months) to the municipality.
Example No 2 Market Value R 800,000 Annual Rates ~ 800 000 x 0.015 = R 12 000 Monthly = R 1 000
Will my rates go up? The total amount of rates collected each year is a budget balancing figure that currently comprises only some 23% of the total municipal budget, which budget generally rises by around the annual inflation rate each year. It is the increase in the budget shortfall each year that determines the overall increase in property rates. The amount that each property owner pays is determined by the value of his property in relation to the other properties in the municipal area. If all properties showed the same increase from the old values to the new then all would reflect a similar rates increase at around the rate of inflation.
The reality however is that the various types of property in the various parts of the municipality have shown different increases in value and thus will have different rates increases. Those properties that have shown a valuation increase below the average could find that their rates will actually decrease. The specific effect on an individual property will obviously only be known once the budget process is complete and the rate randages are applied to the new valuation roll.
Why do we have category of Property? The Property Rates Act allows a Municipality to levy differential rates to different categories of properties. This permits greater flexibility in spreading the rates charge more equitably. (Refer section 5 of the Policy)
Why do we have category of Owners? The Property Rates Act allows a Municipality to define categories of Owners to whom Rebates, Reductions and exemptions may be granted. Eg. Pensioners and disability grantees will receive a percentage rebate while sporting bodies and Public Benefit Organisations will receive exemptions provided they meet the criteria set out in the policy.
How and when do I pay rates? Rates are paid monthly and are consolidated with your water and electricity bill. You can make payment at any one of our cash halls / municipal offices or at EASYPAY pay points , direct debit , internet. If you do not receive an account, then you, as owner of the property, must request an account.
Notification of valuation
When will the Roll be released? It is planned to publically release the Roll on 8 February 2008
How will I know what my new value is? A notice will be posted to each registered property owner informing him of the value which has been assessed in respect of his property.
Where can I find out what other properties have been valued at? You may view the entire valuation roll at Valuation Roll Section, 75 Winder Street, Durban or here
Objections and Appeals
What should I do if I am unhappy with the valuation? Should you feel that your property has been over or under valued, you may lodge an objection.
What happens after I have lodged my objection? The matter will be referred back to the municipal valuer, who will review the valuation in the light of any additional information provided by you. You will be informed in writing of the outcome of this review.
How do I lodge an objection? You can do this by completing and handing in the prescribed form together with any information you have in support of your objection.
What happens if I am still unhappy with my valuation? You may lodge an appeal against the valuation and this appeal will be heard by the Valuation Appeal Board, which is a tribunal appointed by the Provincial Government.
How do I lodge an Appeal? Details of this will be provided to you together with the outcome of your objection.
The forms are obtainable from Real Estate Unit, 5th Floor, Embassy Building, 199 Anton Lembede Street, Durban, Regional Centres or may be downloaded from the web at www.durban.gov.za Objections can be e-mailed to:- email@example.com, posted to:-
EThekweni Municipality, Real Estate Unit, P.O. Box 272 Durban, 4000
Attention:- Valuation Roll or handed in at: The Real Estate Unit, Valuation Roll, 5th Floor, Embassy Building, 199 Anton Lembede Street, Durban
CITY URGES CUSTOMERS TO PAY FOR SERVICES OR MAKE A PAYMENT ARRANGEMENT, AS POSSIBLE DISCONNECTION COULD BE IMPLEMENTED
While the City understands the plight of those that have been financially affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and current Sars Cov-2 strain, customers are to note that the eThekwini Municipality has shown compassion in these trying times, but will not hesitate to implement the Credit Control Policy and disconnect services of those customers who do not pay.
The City implemented the Covid-19 debt relief programme when the virus reached our shores and has since extended it twice. The programme will now conclude on 30 June 2021.
Peet du Plessis, Head of Revenue Management said: “As a caring City we decided to extend the programme so that more customers are able to benefit as well as reduce their debt considerably. We encourage customers to take full advantage of this option as no interest charges will be raised to their account.”
HOW DOES THE COVID-19 DEBT RELIEF PLAN WORK? A customer may benefit from the Covid-19 Relief Programme and enter into a payment plan agreement not exceeding 24 months, with the Municipality. Based on affordability, a down-payment of 10% to 25% of the total debt may be required to be paid upfront.
The historical interest accumulated will be written off. No future interest will be raised on this debt until it is paid in full, provided the customer complies with the conditions of the agreement. This option is open for all customers of eThekwini Municipality, business or residential.
RELIEF FOR GUESTHOUSES AND BED AND BREAKFAST ESTABLISHMENTS Additionally, the Municipality has also considered the impact on the tourism sector and have developed a programme to assist with rates relief to Bed and Breakfast and Guesthouse establishments. They will be granted an additional rebate of 14% and 39%, respectively, totalling to 64% for each property category.
Du Plessis explained, “In the case of multiple-use properties, rates relief will apply only to the applicable rates categories allocated to the qualifying uses in question, as reflected in the valuation roll.”
Du Plessis added that a property owner must be able to demonstrate loss of income by more than 60% and must attach supporting documents.
However, properties registered in the name of or owned by the organ of the State, either partially or wholly, will not qualify for the rates relief.
This programme will also conclude on 30 June 2021.