Thousands of ratepayers continue to live in hope that the City of Cape Town will give them a sympathetic ear when it considers their objections to their new property valuations.
Well over half a million properties were re-valued a year ago, sparking a huge outcry among people who felt the valuations were far too high.
Pensioners, in particular, complained that they would struggle to pay rates that had doubled and, in some cases, trebled. The new valuations apply for the next four years. Earlier this year, around 735 000 property owners received letters informing them of the new valuations of their properties.
They were also notified of the process they needed to follow if they wished to object. More than 37 000 people went ahead and objected.
By the end of last month 8 000 objections had been resolved by the municipal valuer. Many property owners have already received letters advising them of the decisions that have been taken.
According to Abigail Morulane, manager of the city's valuation business environment, about 60% of these decisions went in favour of the home-owners. But she was quick to point out that this percentage is likely to drop.
This is because the city prioritised objections that looked most valid. It still has to plough through the ordinary objections as well as those listed as "frivolous".
For those properties where the objections have not been dealt with, the city's director of valuations, Chris Gavor, says the next step in the process will be that each of the objectors will receive a personal visit from a valuer.
"We have acknowledged each of the objections received by 30 April and we hope to have the majority resolved by the end of December this year," Gavor said.
"We are putting all our resources into this process and have brought valuers in from the private sector to help us."
Gavor explained that in terms of the Municipal Property Rates Act, objectors were required to pay the rates levied in terms of their valuations in the new valuation roll.
Not everyone is happy with this. Some residents feel that payment of the new rates should be deferred until the council has considered their objections. The valuation process has affected the Western Cape property market. Higher rates and services, combined with a hike in interest rates and soaring house prices, has deterred some local buyers from investing in the market.
As far as objections to the new valuations go, property owners will be entitled to appeal the decision of the municipal valuer. These will be heard by the Valuation Appeal Board, due to be established in August.
Should an appeal be upheld, the owner will be entitled to a rates adjustment effective from 1 July this year. The council has said it would consider arranging repayment plans for people who are not contesting the market value of their property, but who are struggling to pay the new rates.
Objectors can contact the city's call centre on 086 010 3089 for more details or visit its website at www.capetown.gov.za
to check the identity of their valuer or of the data collector visiting the property.