Municipal services debtLocal government - municipal services - outstanding debt


In Jordaan and Another v City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality and Another (74195/2013) [2016] ZAGPPHC 941, the High Court dealt with the duty of a municipality to provide services when there were outstanding debts for the property in question. Here, the debts extended beyond the two-year period described in section 118(1) of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act 32 of 2000 (MSA). Furthermore, the High Court addressed the constitutionality of section 118(3) of the MSA.

Ms Jordaan had bought a property at a sale in execution. For purposes of transfer, the City issued a certificate under section 118(1) of the MSA to the effect that all outstanding amounts for municipal services and property rates and taxes during the two years preceding the date of application had been fully paid. However, the City demanded payment of all historical debts for the property, incurred prior to the two-year period, before entering into an agreement with the new owner for municipal services. To that effect, it relied on section 118(3) of the MSA.


The High Court declared section 118(3) to be constitutionally invalid. The declaration of invalidity was limited to the extent of the security provision. In other words, the High Court held that it was unconstitutional to treat historical debts as a charge upon the property that survived the transfer of ownership into the name of a new owner who was not a debtor of the municipality with regard to municipal debts incurred prior to transfer.

Furthermore, the High Court declared that the City was obliged to render municipal services where no debt existed for such services between the municipality and a new owner. In addition, the High Court held that the City was not entitled to claim payment of historical debts where the new owner was not in debt to the City for the services in question.

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