Property extensions probed

Sunday Tribune 13 Jan 2019

System, value assist and other system stoppages, continuous market valuation requests by client departments for pur­chase, sale and lease, as well as the proposed valuation of in­vestment properties.

The city’s chief financial offi­cer, Krish Kumar, said the city processed all the general valu­ation objections that it could.

“A very small number still needs to be processed, but those require additional infor­mation from the objectors be­fore we can process them. Our staff have been chasing up those objectors for the last few months. The Valuation Appeals Board is in the process of dealing with all objection outcomes that are greater than 10% and appeals. They schedule all hearings and sit about three times a month,” Kumar said.

DA caucus leader Nicole Gra­ham said she was glad that the majority of objections were processed. “It has taken quite some time. This has been unfair to those who don’t believe their evalua­tions to be correct, and they have been paying that amount all this time. Ultimately, we need to ex­pand the city’s rates base. The same people can’t keep paying more and more. When this item comes to exco, we will be urging those responsible to increase capac­ity so that this doesn’t happen again,” said Graham.

ETHEK­WINI Municipality is investi­gating at least 150 cases in which residents and business owners expanded their prop­erty boundaries to include mu­nicipal land without permis­sion. A list seen by Sunday Tri­bune shows most of the com­plaints emanate from Durban North, Morningside, Berea, Glenwood, Bluff and sur­roundings areas.

DA ward councillor for Morn­ingside, Christopher Pappas, said illegal businesses and misuse of land was a common complaint. “Residents in Mus­grave and Berea have for a long time been victims of rogue de­velopments, unauthorised

building and irregular land use. Many of these issues go unre­solved when there are com­plaints or in other cases where there is clear wrongdoing by the municipality,” he said.

Lack of enforcement in the city was threatening a number of communities. “Whether it is abandoned buildings, illegal developments or incompatible land use, there is a clear failure to protect residents.”

Sheldon Jennings, director and founder of Archicheck, a firm that inspects properties, said illegal extensions were becom­ing the norm among property owners. “Too often homes are sold without the buyer having cross-referenced the structure against the existing building plans to ensure that it has been approved by the local council.”

A town planning official who asked not to be named said the department received complaints about irregular land use and town planning issues on a
daily basis. Last week the city made an eight-fold increase in the rates of a home owner after he turned his house in John Zikhali Road in Morningside into a car dealership.

The matter had been taken to the Magistrate’s Court for ad­judication.