Special rates = super living

Private Property South Africa
Anna-Marie Smith

Previously known as City Improvement Districts, Special Rating Areas (SRAs) enable communities to improve, secure, maintain and uplift residential areas. The process requires agreement by 60% of property owners in a municipal area to receive approval for the topping-up of monthly rates bills via the Municipal Special Rating By-Law.

The City of Cape Town alone has 25 approved SRAs ,with another five under review, where the majority of communities share common goals and have a strong desire to achieve positive outcomes.

All-round improvements within the prominent tourist area of the central Cape Town precinct illustrate the united front and hard work of residents and private business in co-operation with municipal authorities. Their continued efforts to rejuvenate and preserve a rich cultural area are visible as quality buyers and tenants, plus developers and international investors, are increasingly being attracted to the area.

Another success story is the nearby suburb of Green Point, which gained huge popularity during the 2010 FIFA World Cup and Fan Walk. Complex environmental and heritage issues that were overcome resulted in the retention of a nearby golf course and public open spaces.

Community collaboration to fight urban decay and crime over more than 10 years has brought massive improvements to the False Bay village of Muizenberg due to the concerted efforts of the Muizenberg Improvement District (MID) and a close-knit residential, business and security community.

Benefits

Property owners, tenants and visitors who finance additional security equipment and services, such as CCTV cameras and private street patrols now benefit from sharply reduced crime. MID Director and resident Elizabeth Milne says: “Since MID’s involvement from 2001, the whole of the beachfront slum area has been knocked down and nearly all re-constructed, and major refurbishments in a number of previously slum and drug-infested areas have become respectable.”

Rental Portfolio Manager Matthew Barnes of Rawson Properties Muizenberg says: “Spin-off from MID’s improvement approach in the central business district is a strong sense of community and positive attitude change among residents. This is spilling over into increased rental demand and stock shortages in the village.” He says the area now attracts a high calibre of landlord and quality tenants, and young families who want to live in a central location close to good schools. “Ongoing revamps and new construction attracts new investment while landlords are motivated to hold onto their investments.”

Muizenberg residents enjoy additional benefits on the local beachfront that recently re-acquired Blue Flag Status, through private business initiatives and funding of Law Enforcement Officers. MID says it understands the importance of conserving and protecting the heritage of Muizenberg and strives to enhance the area’s natural, architectural and aesthetic appeal.

Improved security and greater neighbourhood awareness is necessary even in cases such as Capri near Kommetjie, when unsuccessful SRA proposals and applications occur due to small minorities not voting in favour of additional monthly levies.

Residents Associations and Body Corporates nationally prove that security upgrades and regular street patrols add long term value to investments and lifestyles of close-knit communities.

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