AA - 2020

Author: Staff Writer
28 August 2020

Warning issued to Joburg ratepayers and complex residents over levy payments

The City of Johannesburg has called on ratepayers who are financially distressed to approach it for payment arrangements or face being cut off.

The City said it has offered to waiver 100% of interest should customers choose to settle their account.

“Pre-termination notices are issued because of overdue accounts and are important in the credit-control value chain. Ratepayers are advised to respond positively to pre-termination notices in order to avoid being cut off (from) municipal services.”

It resumed full credit measures on outstanding municipal accounts on Monday (24 August).

Some of the credit-control assistance offered to ratepayers who have been hit hard by the lockdown include payment arrangement plans – smaller instalments over a longer period of time.

Since the beginning of the lockdown, the City said it has been affording ratepayers relaxed payment terms.

“Ratepayers who need to enter into a payment arrangement may send their requests to creditcontrol@joburg.org.za or visit their nearest customer service centre across the City’s regions,” it said.

“The City appeals to municipal account holders not to ignore pre-termination notices issued because of overdue accounts, but to rather take advantage of the credit-control assistance being offered to avoid being cut off municipal services.”

The City said its municipal services cut-off will resume within a credit control legal framework that includes the issuing of a pre-termination notice, followed up with a disconnection notice and subsequently a cut-off for outstanding accounts without payment arrangements.


Concern over complexes and sectional titles

Andrew Schaefer, managing director of property management company Trafalgar, meanwhile, noted that scores of sectional title schemes and Home Owners’ Associations (HOAs) around the country are also facing financial trouble if owners don’t start making levy payments soon.

Schaefer said that levy payments were deferred by a number of schemes and HOAs during lockdown. However, he said that these schemes will now need to collect arrear levies to ensure that budgets are met.

“With many people being unable to work during the lockdown and others losing their jobs, trustees and directors were inundated with requests for levy reductions or deferments.

“And since it requires a new budget approved at a general meeting to reduce levies, most of these requests resulted in levy payments being deferred for three months, provided that the owner was up to date with their levy payments at the time, and provided that they agreed to repay the deferred amounts by the end of the financial year.”

Schaefer said that all these schemes still had bills to pay for security, cleaning, gardening and maintenance services in terms of their annual budgets.

They also had to keep paying their insurance premiums and the city council for services, along with contributions to their own reserve funds and statutory payments to the office of the Community Housing Schemes Ombud (CSOS), he said.

“And because most of them operate on very lean budgets as it is, the failure of even a few owners in each scheme to start repaying their deferred levies and making up the arrears now will put the finances of the scheme – and the investments of all their fellow-owners – at severe risk.

“So while it may be an unpleasant task, especially considering the economic hardship that many people are still facing, trustees/ directors do need to be prepared to start taking action to collect arrear levies – and they should know that this is most likely to be successful with the assistance of a professional managing agent who is already registered with the National Debt Collectors Council, which is a legal requirement for anyone collecting any kind of outstanding debt.”

Schaefer said that professional managing agents are also able to advise trustees/ directors about various measures they might consider taking to inconvenience levy defaulters and possibly induce them to pay.

“For example, trustees may not, under any circumstances, disconnect the electricity or cold water supply to any sectional title unit.

“And unless their Conduct Rules make provision for such actions, they will also not be able to block access to a communal DSTV or internet connection, to communal facilities such as a swimming pool or tennis courts, or to biometric security systems that allow fast entrance to the complex.”

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