The city has vowed to eradicate the illegal practice of using land or properties for purposes they were not zoned for.
Spokesperson for Spatial Development, Siobhan Muller, said the city would enforce the provisions of its Property Rates Policy to make residents comply with by-laws regarding illegal land use. The policy prohibited the utilization of land or property for purposes it was not initially zoned for.
Muller said the city would take action against those who used their properties for purposes they were not zoned for. Perpetrators ran the risk of being charged with breaking the property rates policy and could be summoned to appear before the municipal courts, she said.
Muller said some residents contravened the by-law by, for example, using a family dwelling for business or for a guest house or a commune. She said: “A property which is zoned for a particular use may not be used for something different. Only once approval has been granted after due process do amended rights come into effect and then changes can be made.” Complaints regarding the illegal use of land were often lodged by neighbours to the municipality.
Muller said a development compliance officer would usually be sent out to verify if the owner was using a property for a purpose other than what it was zoned for. If a by-law had been transgressed, a notice would be served on the owner, granting him or her 28 days to stop the illegal activity. “Once the 28-day period has expired without the owner complying with the by-law, the matter is referred to municipal courts for legal action,” she said.
The city was aware of the practice by other owners who would opt to legalise the illegal land use by submitting an application for consent use or rezoning, she said. To deal with the practice, the city had implemented a parallel process involving sending out a valuation officer to the property to verify if the land was being used illegally or not.
“The Valuation Department then changes the rating of the property to non-permitted use on a supplementary valuation role. Notice is served on the owner of the change of the rating and, with the next rates account, the owner receives the much higher non-permitted rating,” said Muller.
For example, an owner's rates could go from R4 000 a month to R12 000 a month, she said. “These parallel processes are to ensure compliance by all land owners with the by-laws of the city,” Muller said.
The move to deal with the illegal land use has been welcomed by Residents Associations, particularly in residential areas negatively affected by incorrect land use.
By: Rapula Moatshe