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Kampala valuation court calls for amendment of Local Government Act

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | There is a need to ammend the law on property rates to allow for more time within which property owners can file complaints arising from property valuation, the head of Kampala City Valuation Court, Samuel Muyizzi Mulindwa has revealed.

Property rates are paid by owners of commercial property and collected through the local authorities, in this case Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA. According to section 15 of the Local Governments (Rating) Act, 2005, an objection should be filed within 30 days after the display of the roll of the tax levied.

But Muyizzi, who took over the chair of this court in July 2022, says that there are several people who could not file their complaints and were hence locked out by the court. Muyizzi says that anytime it is realized that there was an error during the valuation process, justice should prevail such that one doesn’t have to pay a tax they are not obliged to pay.

In an interview with Uganda Radio Network, Muyizzi also said that the law should cater for vulnerable people who could be renting out their property to get money to use for renting another property to reside in.

He gave an example of a complaint raised by an old woman in her 80s who rented out her small house in Kisenyi and relocated to a place outside town where she felt safer but KCCA was taxing her for the property in Kisenyi. Muyizzi says that such property should be treated as owner occupied because what is received from tenants is used by the old woman to rent another house where she lives.

On August 9th, 2022, the City valuation court started hearing over 800 cases, which had been filed by property owners following a property valuation exercise of 2018 and 2019. Muyizzi says that majority of the complaints raised regard over valuation by KCCA, which led to exorbitant taxes. Muyizzi says that there are several gaps in the valuation process that the court hearings have helped KCCA to notice and also deliver justice to the property owners.

The city valuation court sits every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to hear cases. The court is still hearing cases from the Central Division. Muyizzi says that the court shall also be moved closer to the people with hearings being held in communities.

On Tuesday, one of the complainants who appeared before the court was Shoal Group of companies represented by the Assistant Administrator Pamela Asiimwe. The company is said to own a property on Plot 30 along Mackenzie Vale Road, which includes two houses each with three bedrooms, a kitchen, and a sitting room.

Asiimwe told court that one of the two houses is occupied by the Chief Executive Officer-CEO of Estates Enterprises limited, a subsidiary of the Shoal Group of Companies while the other isn’t occupied. She said that the CEO is not a tenant as he is entitled to a house according to their company rules.

She says that the CEO is also one of the company directors and hence one of the owners of the structure. She asked the court that this house occupied by the company CEO be treated as owner occupied and hence exempted from the tax and that the second one only pays when it gets tenants.

The KCCA valuer, Elroi Naggayi said that both houses were valued at Shillings 4.98 million, which is fair considering that one house that the CEO occupies has a ratable value of over Shillings 78.97 million while the other house is Shillings 4.2 million.

Court ordered Asiimwe to present proof that Estates Enterprises is a subsidiary of Shoal Group of Companies. The judgement shall be issued on notice. Property rate is 6 percent of the rateable value of a property as guided by the KCCA Act 2010 and the Local Government (Rating) Act 2005.

The rateable value of a property is 76 percent of the annual revenue that a building owner collects from tenants. The remaining 24 percent is left for the owner to cater for utility bills and renovation.

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