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THE Msunduzi Municipality, on Monday, acknowledged to a meeting packed with frustrated attorneys and conveyancers that the delays surrounding the issuing of rates clearance certificates had gone “from bad to worse”.

The meeting, held at the City Hall on Monday afternoon, saw Msunduzi’s CFO Nelisiwe Ngcobo, Mayor Themba Njilo and members from the rates department address a number of conveyancers and attorneys on the problems being experienced and possible solutions.

Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business director Melanie Veness said at the meeting that conveyancers in the city were experiencing “endless delays” when applying for rates clearance certificates, which has an impact on the city’s economy.

She said conveyancers were having to wait up to 16 weeks to “obtain an assessment of rates and two to three weeks for the certificate to be issued once payment had been made”.

"Often, once the payment has been made, they are advised of additional costs due to original assessments being inaccurate and causing weeks of further delay,” she said.

“Another frustration is the time it takes to close a seller’s account, refund them the amounts due, and to get a new rates account for the new owner.

“I am told that it often takes in excess of 12 months to get a rates account in the new owner’s name,” said Veness.

She said because of this, properties sold cannot be transferred even when they have been paid for, meaning the seller cannot access the funds and the buyer cannot access the property unless they are prepared to pay occupational rental.

According to some of those present, buyers were having to pay exorbitant occupational rents, some to the value of halfa-million.

“The impact on the economy is significant. There have been cancelled sales, businesses not being able to trade because they are not able to move to their new properties and people losing sales.”

Veness said they were looking at getting outside help.

She added that the situation “is completely unacceptable and is hampering investment and economic development in the city”.

Bruce Campbell of Natal Property Consultants said the issue was an ongoing one and that he had attended meetings on the same issue in the past, was made promises but nothing ever happened.

Msunduzi’s Ngcobo said she realised the City had “underestimated the problem” and said they had also been having challenges, such as fraud charges within the department, and people refusing to do their work.

She said three women had been served with a notice of intention to suspend and R300 000 had been put aside to investigate the goings-on in the rates department.

She also said they had recently changed systems, which had also affected operations.

Njilo apologised for the delays businesses had experienced with the certificate clearances. “From now on we must work together and make sure everything is done as it is supposed to be.”

It was agreed that another meeting would be held on June 19, to further discuss more solutions and a way forward to the problem.

“Often, once the payment has been made, they are advised of additional costs due to original assessments being inaccurate and causing weeks of further delay."

Article Source - The Witness (22 May 2018)


Submitted 23 May 18 / Views 688