eThekwini offers rates support for senior citizens

Under the old Local Authorities Ordinance the only official help pensioners received with their rates was a deferment of their rates liability, provided the outstanding amount did not exceed half the value of the property at anytime.

This facility was unpopular because ratepayers did not want to leave a debt legacy to their heirs.

But eThekwini's new rates policy, approved for the 2008/09 financial year, changes this, according to an article in the official eThekwini Municipality publication, Metro ezasegagasini. Now many more senior citizens will receive help.

The new policy allows for a basic deduction of R120 000 on the rateable value of residential property. In addition, pensioners may now apply for a R280 000 rebate. In other words a total maximum of R400 000 of the value of a pensioner’s property will not be rateable.

This is provided the pensioner meets the following criteria:

* He or she must be 60 or older. If the registered owner of the property is less than 60, but married to someone who is older than 60, they still qualify. Proof of marital status must be provided. In addition, the couple must reside permanently at the primary property.
* He or she must produce a bar-coded ID.
* The value of the primary property must not exceed a value as determined by a resolution of the council at its annual budget. No limit has been placed on property values at this state, but the council may review this for next year.
* The registered owner may not be in permanent employment.
* He or she must apply by not later than 30 April before the start of the new municipal year for which relief is sought.
* This assistance applies only to natural person; properties in the name of a trust, a company or a close corporation will not qualify. Also, where the property is in the name of multiple owners, others than a married couple, the owners will not be eligible for the benefit.

The rebate will lapse:
* When the applicant dies.
* On alienation of the property.
* When the applicant quits residing permanently on the property, and,
* If applications are not submitted annually on or before 30 April.

Late applications may be reinstated with effect from the next practical billing cycle. The rebate application form for pensioners, as well as the medically boarded, disability grantee and child-headed household rebates are available at www.durban.gov.za or e-mail naidoomarilyn@durban.gov.za
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