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City tells student commune owners to pay up Print E-mail
10 February 2017

The City of Johannesburg plans to focus on residential properties that have turned into student accommodation but whose owners have failed to adjust their property rates accordingly.

This issue was raised during a Property Rates Policy review meeting at St Peter’s Preparatory School in Fourways in Region A on Thursday February 9.

Often property owners avoid registering or legalising their communes to avoid paying higher property rates. Most of the communes are found near institutions of higher learning such as Wits University and the University of Johannesburg.

Veli Hlophe, the City’s Deputy Director of Policy and Revenue Enhancement, said the issue of communes was “a big problem”.

“Everything that you do on your property you must have council approval. What most commune owners don’t understand is that they can legalise them,” said Hlophe.

He said areas such as Brixton, Auckland Park and surrounding areas – which are situated around Wits University and the University of Johannesburg – might experience problems such as power outages and blocked sewers because of the overload on the systems.

He said it was important for residents to understand that the new property rates document would have to align with Executive Mayor Cllr Herman Mashaba’s 10-point plan, which includes growing Johannesburg’s economy by 5%.

“We urge neighbours to speak up when they see such things happening so people can be shown the proper channels to do things,” said Hlophe.

He further said ratepayers who owned communes needed to ensure that the running of their businesses did not affect their neighbours.

“The rooms that the students rent in communes must meet certain standards. Property owners also need to understand that there are bylaws that they need to adhere to, one of them being that they cannot make a noise throughout the night,” said Hlophe.

The thorny issue of pensioners’ rebates also came under discussion.

Cllr David Foley of Ward 94 said attending property rates meetings was always an eye opener. “I would like to say that the presenter (Hlophe) was very knowledgeable and people now have more understanding of rates,” said Foley.
He added that people who attended these public meetings were genuinely interested in their city.

Cllr Candice James of Ward 93 concurred with Cllr Foley, saying: “[Hlophe] managed to calm residents and put their minds at ease in as far as property rates were concerned.”

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Last Updated on 10 February 2017