Basis for levying property rates
Local Authorities (LAs) levy property rates on the basis of a property valuation roll that records valuations of all assessable property within the local government area. Such a valuation roll is prepared not less than once in every five years.
Besides, an LA can, in not less than once in 12 months, prepare a supplementary valuation roll to take into account any assessable property discovered to have been omitted from the last preceding valuation or any new building or structure or any improvements made or completed since completion of the last preceding valuation roll.
Once a valuation roll or a supplementary valuation roll has been undertaken, the council is required to publish in the gazette and, at least, one newspaper circulating in the local government area a notice that the said valuation roll is open for inspection.
Any person who is aggrieved in any way with the property valuation basis may object in writing at any time before expiration of 28 days of the valuation roll being open for inspection.
Determination and payment of rates
In every financial year, a rate shall be made and levied by an LA to meet all liabilities that fall out of other available financing provisions. The rate may be made and levied separately upon the valuation of land and improvements.
A Local Authority may further differentiate a rate levy between areas and classes of property within the local government area. A case in hand here would be the charging of different rates for property in residential and industrial areas.
It must also be noted that in respect of any area which has not been designated as a rateable area, a Local Authority may levy a fixed sum upon buildings which may be different in respect of buildings used for different purposes and a fixed sum per unit area of land.
Every rate shall become due on the first day of the rate period and shall become payable on a date in the financial year to which it relates as shall be fixed by the Local Authority.
The LA shall make a surcharge on any rate remaining unpaid 60 days after the date on which such rate becomes payable. This surcharge shall be calculated at the rate of four percent per month or part thereof. This translates into a surcharge rate of 48 percent per annum.
If any sum due for any rate levied on any assessable property remains unpaid for three years after the date upon which the sum became payable, the LA will publish a notice in the gazette and a newspaper circulating within the local government area requiring the owner to pay the arrears within 30 days of the date of the publication of the notice.
If the arrears remain unpaid within the 30-day period, the LA seizes the property and sells it by public auction in satisfaction of the property rates due.
So, why not pay your property rates on time and avoid the embarrassment!