Conveyancing Matters - Ethekwini Rates Issues

AUTHOR: Annabelle da Costa 

As you may have experienced, there is an issue at the Ethekwini Rates Department.  Conveyancers are currently experiencing lengthy delays with regard to rates applications made to the Ethekwini Municipality.

In some instances this is because the Municipality is generally understaffed (and a lot of staff are untrained), in other instances it is because the matter needs to be diverted to other departments (including but not limited to Valuations (if the value of the property differs substantially from the sale price), electricity and water departments (where the clients metro bill reflects estimates and not actual meter readings)). Currently the most significant delay is due to thousands of water meters across Durban and surrounds  having not been read. This is because the Ethekwini Municipality issued contract to suppliers to read meters expired 4 months ago and was not renewed, resulting in Durban residents paying bills on estimated consumption only. We are advised there are now only 3 staff for the entire jurisdiction in the water department.

Our office goes to the Municipality every week, as often as we can to try and push our matters through, so please don’t think we are not doing our utmost but there are ways which we can suggest to you to assist so that matters don’t get stuck in this dysfunctional department, or the electricity department for that matter:

  1. At the time a property is listed, please encourage the Seller to take a photograph of the electricity and water meter readings and supply a copy thereof to the Council. This can be done by email or on their Whatsapp line (being 073 148 3477).
  2. When we receive an offer we request the Seller to supply us with their latest full metro bill for the property reflecting the rates, electricity and water account numbers. When you take the offer please assist and obtain same from the Seller.
  3. Once the suspensive conditions are met, we will URGENTLY apply for rates on our system so that the matter gets into the council’s work flow. We also ask the Seller to supply us with a photograph of the latest water and electricity meter readings so that the matter will hopefully avoid investigation at the electricity and water departments. We upload this information to the council when we apply for our rates.  If there is a delay in them supplying this to us (or any of the information required) it will delay our application In the event that the meters are pre-paid, we will also require a photograph of the prepaid meter numbers. We will work with the Sellers in this regard but any assistance you can provide will help expedite the matter. 

As mentioned, another department which the matter could be delayed in is the Valuations Department. Once the property has been sold, should there be more than a 10% discrepancy between the Municipal valuation and the purchase price, the Real Valuations Department will require a copy of the approved plans to the property. Should we establish the variation in value at the outset of the transaction, we will then request the Seller to supply us with a copy  for on transmission. In some instances it is then established that the plans are not in order or it takes the seller some time to locate which may delay the transaction.  It would accordingly be helpful for you to obtain a copy at the outset, either on listing or on sale. Obtaining a copy of the plans is also useful as in your sale agreement the seller usually warrants the plans are in order which may not be the case.

Courtesy: Annabelle da Costa from Da Costa Inc

Annabelle da Costa from Da Costa Inc

Contact Details for further information:

Da Costa Inc

Tel: 031 502 6902 / 082 941 6447

Email: [email protected]

We appreciate your business and we appreciate your assistance overcoming these hurdles.


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