13-year battle over council transfer error

Morningstar resident Margaret Smith wants her R15 000 municipal bill written off, saying it was caused by an error made by council during the transfer of her family’s Kanarie Road property.

Ms Smith’s mother, Ella Smith, bought the semi-detached unit on erf 7229 from the City in 2003, but instead of transferring just one unit to her, the council erroneously transferred both units.

Ms Smith’s mother died in 2014 with the matter unresolved. The City has acknowledged its initial mistake, but said the Smiths have been “un co-operative” when they tried to rectify it.

Ms Smith told Northern News on Monday July 18, that she only found out on Friday July 15 that the City had also sub-divided the erf.

“This whole thing is such a mess. I went to the City on Friday and heard about this for the first time. There was a big mix up and now I will have to consult with my attorney’s before making any decisions,” she said.

“12a and 12b Kanarie Road were two City-owned rental units (semi-detached) which were located on Erf 7229, Morningstar, Durbanville. The tenant (Smith) of 12b Kanarie Road applied to the City to purchase their rental unit. The property was sub-divided and sold to the Smith family while 12a Kanarie Road remained a rental unit managed by the City,” said Mayco member for human settlements, Benedicta van Minnen.

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“However, when the instructions were issued to the City’s attorneys to proceed with the registration of transfer, the full extent of erf 7229 was erroneously transferred,” said Ms Van Minnen.

Ms Van Minnen, however, says the City attempted to rectify this matter but did not receive the necessary co-operation from the Smith family.

The City took Ms Smith to court in 2009 and the matter came before the Western Cape High Court in November, where the City was ordered to sub-divide Erf 7229.

“The sub-divisional diagrams were approved in 2011 and 12b Kanarie Road (Smith’s property) was issued with a new erf number being erf 18536 measuring 223 m² in extent,” said Ms Van Minnen.

“In terms of section 4.2 of the court order, the Smith family was ordered to transfer the remainder of the property to the City. This could, however, not be executed as they have repeatedly refused to co-operate with the City’s attorneys by providing the original deed of transfer.”

The Smith family paid their municipal accounts from 2003 to 2006 but then stopped making payments, as they did not feel it was fair towards them to have to pay for both units.

The Smiths tried to evict the other tenant but the court order prevented them from doing so.

“In terms of section 6.2 of the court order, the Smith family was not allowed to collect rental from, or attempt to evict the second tenant, and all those who hold occupation under him,” said Ms Van Minnen.

She said the City’s billing will only be adjusted if the Registration of Transfer is effected.

“Ms Smith’s estate is liable for the debt outstanding until the property is transferred to the relevant beneficiary.”

Ms Smith said she would like to move forward and make payments, but with the outstanding balance, she is not able to do so.

The Smith family currently owes the City about R15 000 for outstanding municipal bills which relate to erfs 7229 and 18536.

“I am the only person living here and only work part-time cleaning homes and offices. I have tried to make some payments but I only earn around R2 000 a month.”

When Northern News tried to explain to Ms Smith that she would need to hand over the original Deed of Transfer, she said that she first wanted “this mess sorted out”