Johannesburg - A Joburg CBD building owner, Rees Mann, got the shock of his life when he opened his municipal valuation bill and found it had increased by more than 700% - from R3million to a staggering R25m.
He joins the fast-growing list of home and business owners up in arms over what they term excessive valuations that will force them off their properties.
The Mann family have been active in the inner city for many years, never moving out despite the decline in the Pritchard Street area, which was once a thriving clothing-manufacturing hub.
Mann still runs a sewing and haberdashery business. He was the founder of the Fashion District and helped train hundreds of designers and dressmakers, some of whom now rent his properties.
Mann also owns other buildings in the inner city, all of which have greatly increased in their valuations.
Read: #JhbRatesMustFall: Valuations to squeeze residents out of their homes
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"I will be forced to sell the buildings if I have to pay these increased rates, and no one would buy them anyway with the high valuation and rates, which could lead to them standing empty and the city losing out on rates.
"It's crazy. If this is the city's valuation, they must buy the buildings from me at these prices," he said.
Hundreds of Joburg property owners are logging their objections to what they call highly inflated municipal valuations.
A #RatesMustFall petition has been doing the rounds, which will be sent to mayor Herman Mashaba. Nearly 1000 signatures have been collected within days of the valuations being made public.
The Star has been inundated with complaints about the inflated new rates from concerned Joburg homeowners.
George Knoke says his Auckland Park property increase is 60%.
"This is absolutely inaccurate, as my neighbour's property has been standing empty for five years, which definitely brings down the value of my house. My house has been valued at nearly R2million. Nobody in their right mind will pay this," he said.
The city went out to tender on the revaluation process, which was granted to Evaluation Enhanced Property Appraisals at a cost of R99.8m for about 880000 properties across the city.
Joburg municipal valuer Piet Eloff confirmed that they had received many objections, but played down the grievances, saying "this happens every time we redo the valuation roll".
The cushy R99.8m tender behind the public outrage includes everything from the valuations to the emailing and posting of section 49 notices to property owners, informing them of their new valuations.
The contract for just the mailing and posting of the notices was granted to CAB Holdings by the company that won the tender, he added, saying it was not awarded by the city.
Eloff said the valuations were done based on the number of sales in the area over the previous year.
If there were no sales, the value of areas of similar descriptions were used.
The city's mayoral committee member for finance, Funzela Ngobeni, said residential property statistics showed that 4.61% of properties had decreased in value, while 2.23% properties had increased between 81% and 100%, and 3.38% of properties had gone up by more than 100%.
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