SWARTLAND MUNICIPALITY CREDIT CONTROL AND DEBT COLLECTION POLICY
In compliance with sections 95, 96 and 97 of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act 32 of 2000, read with section 156 of the Constitution, Swartland Municipality hereby adopts the following Credit Control and Debt Collection Policy:
DEFINITIONS AND OBJECTIVES
1. Objectives of this policy
1.1The objectives of this policy are to-(a)focus on all outstanding debt due and payable to the Municipality;(b)provide for innovative, cost-effective, efficient, appropriate and relevant methods for credit control, debt collection and indigent relief;(c)promote a culture of good payment habits and create a sense of responsibility towards the payment of municipal accounts and reduction of municipal debt; and(d)provide for the subsidisation of services to indigent house-holds where applicable and/or on application by qualifying consumers.
CUSTOMER CARE AND MANAGEMENT
2. Communication and the conveyance of information
2.1In order to comply with sections 95(a) to (c) of the Act, the Municipality may-(a)establish a customer care forum where community members and Council members may meet;(b)hold ward meetings where representatives of the Municipality and other service providers may consult with ward members and their ward representative; and(c)implement measures to ensure that consumers of municipal services or any other service, ratepayers and residents in general are properly informed about the delivery of services in particular about the costs involved in service provision.
3. Measuring of municipal services and defective meters
3.1The Municipality must ensure that the consumption of electricity and water provided to consumers is measured by means of accurate and verifiable metering systems.3.2Meters must be read, as far as possible, at intervals of 1 (one) month or a period determined by the Municipality.3.3If for any reason meters cannot be read or have not been read, the Municipality is entitled to render an account statement based on the estimated consumption calculated on the average consumption during the 3 (three) months preceding the date on which the meter was last read; provided that the difference between actual usage and estimated usage must be set off as soon as a metered reading has been obtained.3.4It may be assumed that the electricity or water usage registered by a meter has in fact been delivered; provided that, for any period that a meter is out of order, the electricity or water so delivered may be calculated according to the average usage during the 3(three) months preceding the period in question.3.5Consumers may request a special meter reading against payment of the prescribed tariff.3.6Defective metering equipment must be handled as stipulated in the Municipality's by-laws regarding water and electricity supply.3.7The provisions of the by-laws mentioned in section 3.6 regarding defective metering equipment apply with the necessary changes.
4. Municipal accounts
4.1The Municipality must render a monthly account statement to consumers of municipal services.4.2The account statement must reflect the following-(a)all outstanding amounts and the balance brought forward;(d)meter readings, where applicable.4.3In respect of account statements rendered to a consumer who is not the owner of the relevant property, and where a lease agreement exists between the owner and the tenant, the Municipality reserves the right to switch the account to the owner of the property upon expiration of the lease agreement.4.4An account as contemplated in section 4.3 will be switched to the owner of the property if-(b)a tenant or occupier fails to pay the account on 3 (three) occasions, irrespective of the period of lease between the owner and the tenant.4.5Section 4.4(b) applies also in the case of nonresidential consumers.4.6Where the owner of a block of flats fails to pay their account, the Municipality must notify the tenants of such failure and grant the owner 14 (fourteen) days to settle the account, failing which the Municipality may restrict or discontinue services to the premises.4.7Upon switching of an account under sections 4.3 and 4.4 above, consumer service deposits paid by a tenant or occupier must be refunded to the relevant temnt or occupier after the final outstanding balance has been calculated.4.8The Municipality will supply an owner who rents out property with a copy of the monthly account statement provided to the temnt or occupier of the property. The council will determine the cost of such duplicate statement annually and may debit the amount against the owner's account; provided that e-mailed account statements will be issued at no cost.4.9An owner who leases out property must provide the tenant or occupier upon request with a copy of the monthly account statement rendered to the owner by the Municipality.4.10The provisions of sections 4.3 and 4.4 do not apply to-(a)occupiers of municipal property under a lease agreement; or(b)state-owned property, where one department pays the rates and another pays the services account.
5. Enquiry, dispute and appeal
5.1Enquiries-(a)Consumers may request the Municipality to review an account.(b)While an account is under review, the consumer concerned must pay an amount equal to the average usage for the preceding 3 (three) months, if the history of that account is available.(c)Should the history mentioned in subsection (b) above be unavailable, the consumer must pay an estimated amount before the due date until the matter has been resolved.(d)The Municipality must resolve the matter within 10 (ten) working days of receipt of such request and inform the consumer concerned of the outcome of the enquiry.(e)Failure to pay the amount determined under section 5.1(b) or (c) on or before the due date may result in the consumer's services being restricted or disconnected.5.2Disputes-(a)Consumers may dispute an account received, either in part or in full, in which case section 102 of the Act applies.(b)The provisions of sections 5.l(b) and (c) apply, with the necessary changes, to such disputes.5.3Appeals-(a)A person who feels aggrieved by a decision of the Municipality regarding delegated authority may appeal against that decision by means of written notice to the Municipal Manager within 21 (twenty-one) days of the date of notification of the decision, as stipulated in section 62 of the Act.(b)The grounds for appeal must be clearly set out by the aggrieved person or their duly authorised representative.(c)Where applicable, the costs incurred for testing any metering equipment must be included in the notice.
6. Payment facilities
6.1The Municipality must provide and maintain strategically situated, accessible payment offices and cash points throughout its area of jurisdiction.6.2The following alternative payment facilities must also be provided or made available-(a)electronic bank transfers (ACB system);(c)direct deposits into the Municipality's approved bank account;(d)payments at various accredited businesses and other agencies; and(e)where available, credit and debit card facilities - up to R5 000 per municipal account per month, only in respect of residential property.6.3Where any of the alternative payment facilities are used, the onus is on the person using such facilities to provide proof of payment, and the Municipality does not accept liability for non-receipt of such payments, or for incorrect allocations which are due to a mistake on the part of that person.6.4Where payment is made by way of a direct deposit into the Municipality's approved bank account, the consumer must submit proof of the deposit before or on the due date.
7. Consolidation of accounts and appropriation of payments
7.1The Municipality considers all separate accounts of a consumer to be consolidated as contemplated in section 102 of the Act, even if separate accounts should be rendered for such owner or tenant and including all prepaid services for which no account statement is issued.7.2Payments received by the Municipality will be appropriated in the order determined by the Municipality during the annual budgeting process.7.3The Municipality must appropriate payments received in date order - oldest debts first - by means of instalments as determined by the Council annually in order to prevent prescription, and must take care not to let consumers accrue more debts by neglecting to appropriate a portion of such payment(s) to current accounts.
CREDIT CONTROL AND DEBT COLLECTION MEASURES
8. Application for municipal services
8.1No person may receive or consume municipal services without the Municipality's approval.8.2The Municipality may render services to consumers in terms of special agreements where circumstances require special measurements.8.3Consumers who want to receive or use municipal services must apply in writing for approval as contemplated in section 184.108.40.206In respect of nonresidential property where the consumers are not the owners, the owner must consent in writing to the services being supplied as requested.8.5Upon approval of an application for services to be provided, the Municipality must inform the applicant of the following-(a)the various levels or standards of services available, and the applicable tariffs or fees payable in respect of each level of service;(b)the due date for payment of all amounts owed to the Municipality;(c)the service hours of cashiers where payments may be made, and the conditions for payment at vendor points;(d)the various alternative payment facilities available, and the conditions and requirements relating to each;(e)the Municipality's right to terminate or restrict water or electricity services in case of nonpayment of an account or any part thereof or tampering with municipal metering equipment;(f)the consumer's liability for any damages caused to metering equipment or other municipal property;(g)the consumer's obligation to pay for services despite possible nondelivery of an account statement;(h)the owner's liability for the occupier's or tenant's arrears for municipal services;(i)the Municipality's right to consolidate the various accounts of a specific consumer;(j)the Municipality's right to install a prepayment meter on a property where the electricity supply was disconnected because of nonpayment or tampering, in which case the meter remains municipal property;(k)the installation of prepayment meters being encouraged but subject to the owner's written permission, while debtors whose electricity supply has been disconnected three times for nonpayment will be compelled to install a prepayment meter before the supply will be reconnected; and all energy dispensers being installed at the owner's or tenant's expense;(l)the Municipality's right to install a water demand management meter on a property because of nonpayment or tampering, in which case the meter remains municipal property;(m)the Municipality's right to withhold or to limit units purchased for a prepayment meter or to offset a portion of any payment against arrears in case of nonpayment of debt owed the Municipality;(n)the Municipality's right to levy interest on amounts not paid by the due date as stipulated on an account statement;(o)the Municipality's right to attach movable and immovable property;(p)the Municipality's offering assistance to indigents; and(q)the Municipality's having a client service charter.8.6The Municipality will be obliged to provide a specific level of a municipal service requested only if-(a)the Municipality already provides such level of service m the normal course of events; and(b)the Municipality possesses the means and capacity to provide service at such level.8.7Consumers may apply at any time to change the level of a municipal service originally approved, provided that the level of service requested is available and that the costs and disbursements incidental to such change be borne by the applicant.8.8In the case of illiterate or similarly disabled persons, the Municipality must ensure that they are aware of and understand the contents of the application form and that they are assisted in completing it.8.9Should the Municipality-(a)refuse an application for the provision of municipal services or of a specific service or level of service; or(b)not be in a position to provide such municipal service or level of service on the date on which it is requested; or(c)not be in a position to provide such municipal service or level of service at all,the Municipality must inform the applicant of such refusal or inability to provide the service and the reasons for it.8.10Approval for the provision of services or any undertaking or arrangement under this policy does not constitute a credit facility contemplated in section 8(3) of the National Credit Act 34 of 2005 but is deemed to be incidental credit as contemplated in section 4(6)(b) read with sections 5(2) and (3) of the National Credit Act.
9. Liability for payment
9.1A consumer who receives, uses or benefits from the services offered or rendered by the Municipality in terms of its functions as listed in schedules 4B and 5B of the Constitution is responsible for the payment of any monies due and payable to the Municipality in respect of such consumption or benefit.9.2If for any reason service changes have not been levied, the Municipality is entitled to issue an account statement as from the date of registration of such property at the Deeds Office.9.3Rental payable in respect of the letting of state-financed housing and other municipal property is payable by-(a)the person with whom the lease was concluded; or(b)if no agreement of lease was concluded: the person who applied to rent the premises; or(c)if no such person can be identified: the head of the household occupying such premises; or(d)any other person who accepts responsibility for the payment of rental due, whether they occupy the premises or not.9.4The responsibility for repaying housing loans rests on the person(s) with whom the loan agreement or instrument of debt has been concluded.9.5If an account is not paid in full, any lesser amount offered and accepted by the Municipality will not be regarded as full and final settlement of such account unless the Municipal Manager accepts such lesser amount in writing as being in full and final settlement of the account in question.9.6Nondelivery of an account or an error on or omission from an account statement resulting from an administrative error on the part of Swartland Municipality does not exempt consumers from payment of any amounts owing to the Municipality.
10. Due date
Accounts for rates or services offered or rendered by the Municipality become due and payable as follows-10.1Rates-(a)Rates become due and payable on I July of each year for which such rates are calculated.(b)The Municipality will recover rates levied in 12 (twelve) equal instalments that will be payable on the date indicated on the account statement.(c)The Municipality will recover the rates levied in a single amount by prior arrangement, in which case the amount is payable on the date determined by the Municipality in respect of annual payments at the end of October of the year in which the amount is levied.(d)Where property becomes taxable after I July of the Municipality's financial year, the rates levied become due and payable on the date of notice to the owner of their being liable for payment thereof.(e)The provisions of sections 10.1(b) and (c) will apply with the necessary changes in respect of rates levied under section 10.1(d).(f)Applications to pay rates in a single amount must be submitted to the Municipality before 31 May of each year.10.2Availability charges-(a)Availability charges become due and payable on I July of each year for which such fees are calculated.(b)The Municipality will recover the availability charges levied in 12 (twelve) equal instalments that will be payable on or before the last working day of each month in respect of which payment must be made.(c)If a levy becomes payable after I July of a financial year, it becomes due and payable on the date of notice to the owner of their being liable for payment thereof.10.3Municipal services-Monies payable in respect of municipal services are due and payable on the date indicated on the account statement that is rendered each month, and payment must be made on or before the last working day of the month in which an account was delivered.10.4Rental or loan instalment-Payment of rental or loan instalments due in respect of state-financed housing or other municipal property must be made on the dates and in accordance with the provisions set out in the relevant lease or loan agreements.10.5Other fees or instalments-Payment of monies other than those contemplated in sections l1.l(a) to (e) and section 11.4 must be made on the date indicated on the account, which date will be no more than 30 (thirty) days after the particular service has been rendered.
11. Accounts in arrears
11.1Rates-(a)If rates that are payable in a single amount remain unpaid after the due date, the Director: Financial Services will serve a written notice on the owner demanding payment within 14 (fourteen) days from the date of notification to remedy the default.(b)Upon failure to comply with a notice contemplated in subsection (a) above, the Director: Financial Services will institute legal proceedings to recover such rates, subject to the provisions of section 15.(c)If an owner who pays rates in monthly instalments defaults on payments, the Director: Financial Services will withdraw by written notice the owner's right to pay monthly instalments, in which event the full amount of outstanding rates becomes due and payable immediately.(d)If rates payable in monthly instalments are not paid in full within 12 (twelve) months after the date on which such rates became due and payable, the Director: Financial Services will act as set out in subsections (a) and (b) above.(e)Subsections (a) and (b) above apply also with regard to recovery of rates as contemplated in subsection (c).11.2 Availability charges-Sections 11.1 (c) and (d) apply, with the necessary changes, to owners who default on payments regarding availability charges.11.3Municipal services-(a)If a consumer fails to pay any amount or portion thereof regarding municipal services on the due date, the Municipality may-(i)disconnect the electricity supply to the premises concerned:(ii)restrict the water supply to such premises by installing a water demand management meter on the service connection, which will allow the passage of at least 6 (six) kilolitres of water per month or as permitted by such management meter;(iii)install a prepayment meter where the electricity supply has been disconnected because of nonpayment;(iv)withhold or limit units purchased for a prepayment meter or to offset a portion of any payment against arrears as result of nonpayment of debt owed to the Municipality.(b)Notice to a consumer in respect of an account in arrears or outstanding debt may be given via direct electronic media, including but not limited to e-mail, SMS or any other available method of electronic communication determined by the Council from time to time.(c)The Municipality may enter into an agreement with consumers who are unable to pay their account or a portion of it in terms of which agreement the consumer will be permitted to pay the outstanding amount in monthly instalments as determined annually by the Council.(d)Where applicable, the Municipality may enter into an agreement with a consumer's employer under section 103 of the Act.(e)Should a consumer fail to comply with the conditions contemplated in section 11.l(c) or (d), the Municipality may cancel the agreement and institute any of the debt collection measures provided for in section 11.3(a).(f)Should a consumer be served with an account that shows an amount payable that is exceptionally high as a result of-(i)an act or omission on the part of the Municipality; or(ii)a leakage from a water installation or electricity installation on the premises which is not part of the Municipality's service connection,the Municipality may enter into an agreement with the consumer to pay the amount owed in monthly instalments.(g)If more than 30 (thirty) days have expired after the due date without an agreement having been conclude as contemplated in section 11.3(c), the Director: Financial Services will institute legal proceedings against the consumer in accordance with section 15 for the recovery of the debt.(h)Should a basic levy, availability charge, rates or any other cost be levied on premises of which the owner cannot be traced, the Municipal Manager and the Director: Financial Services, in consultation with the internal auditor and the Executive Mayor, may cease such levies: provided that,should the owner be traced, such levies may be recovered retrospectively.11.4Rentals or loan instalments-(a)Interest payable on rentals or loan instalments in arrears will be levied in accordance with the provisions of the lease or loan agreement concerned.(b)Should rentals or loan instalments remain unpaid on or after the due date, a notice demanding payment as well as interest will be served on the person responsible for payment.(c)The Municipality may enter into an agreement with a consumer to pay the arrears by way of monthly instalments as set out in section l1.l(d), subject to the necessary changes.(d)If no agreement has been concluded to pay the arrears and such arrears should remain outstanding for more than 30 (thirty) days, the Director: Financial Services will take the steps set out in section 11.3(a).11.5Other fees or instalments-Section 11.4 applies, with the necessary changes.
12. Levying of interest
12.1The standard rate of interest must be levied and collected in respect of all amounts due and payable for each month; on the understanding that, for the purposes of calculation, a portion of a month will be regarded as a month.12.2Interest is levied from the first working day following the date on which an amount in arrears has become payable.12.3The Director: Financial Services, Municipal Manager and internal auditor, in consultation with the Executive Mayor, may authorise such interest to be waived.
13. Disconnection and reconnection of services
13.1Services disconnected under section 11.3(a) will be reconnected only upon payment of-(a)the amount in arrears together with interest, or an amount according to a payment agreement under section 11.3(c);(b)the reconnection fees; and(c)any other fees stipulated in the Municipality's Tariff Policy.13.2The onus is on the debtor to request reconnection and to prove that the full amount owing was paid, or that a payment agreement was concluded.13.3Restricted or disconnected services will be restored within a reasonable time after the debtor has produced proof of payment of the required amount, and subject to the Municipality's capacity at the time to restore such service.13.4Services disconnected under section 22 will be reconnected only upon payment of-(a)the reconnection fees;(b)the cost of damages to equipment;(c)the replacement costs of damaged equipment; and(d)any other fees stipulated in the Municipality's Tariff Policy.13.5No standby service will be rendered instead of reconnection in case of nonpayment or tampering with metering equipment.
14. Payment of consumer services deposit
14.1A consumer as contemplated in subsections (b) and (c) of the definition of "consumer" in section 1 of this by-law must pay, upon application for municipal services, a consumer services deposit as determined by the Municipality before the requested services will be provided.14.2Should a consumer as contemplated in section 14.1 fail to pay the total outstanding debt for municipal services, or should services be disconnected or restricted as set out in section 11.3(a), the Municipality may increase the consumer services deposit.14.3The increase will be equal to the owner's average consumption over a period of 12 (twelve) months.14.4Should a consumer as contemplated in section 14.1 move to other premises within the area of jurisdiction of the Municipality, the deposit payable may be increased if such move should require that.14.5Should services be terminated upon a consumer's request, or should accounts be switched under section 4, the deposit may be utilised to cancel or reduce the owner's debt; the remainder, if any, will be refunded.14.6The Municipality may increase a deposit held under section 14.1 annually, which increase will be equal to the average of the services consumed over a period of 12 (twelve) months.14.7Should a consumer vacate the premises, the deposit will be forfeited and applied to settle any unpaid municipal accounts.14.8The Municipality is not liable for the payment of interest on deposits held.
15. Institution of legal proceedings
15.1The institution of legal proceedings includes but is not limited to-(a)issuing summons for payment of amounts in arrears;(b)attachment of rent payable in respect of a property, where applicable;(a)attachment of a consumer's remuneration;(b)attachment and sale in execution of movable property;(c)attachment and sale in execution of immovable property; and(d)eviction of an occupier of any municipal property and/or attachment of an occupier's movable property in terms of a hypothec lien.15.2The institution of legal proceedings must be undertaken with due consideration of all legal requirements and in compliance with the applicable regulations and court rules as per the Magistrates' Court Act 32 of 1944 (as amended) and the Supreme Court Act 59 of 1959 (as amended).15.3Should a consumer's debt be less than R5OO (five hundred rand) and older than 90 (ninety) days, the Director: Financial Services may decide whether-(a)the account should be handed over for collection; or(b)legal proceedings should be instituted against the consumer.15.4Should the debt be more than R5OO (five hundred rand) and older than 90 (ninety) days, the Director: Financial Services may determine which of the judicial measures listed in section 15.3 will be the most appropriate and effective in the particular case.
16. Writing off of outstanding debt
This will be dealt with case by case upon the recommendation of the Director: Financial Services, and subject to approval by the Council.
17. Payment agreement criteria
17.1Agreements to pay outstanding debts in legal suit by means of monthly payment agreements are made with reference to the following-(b)the debtor's employment status;(c)the total amount outstanding;(d)payment agreement concluded previously;(e)the debtor's socio-economic and/or other circumstances; and17.2Agreements to pay outstanding debt on account, not in legal suit but in current status by means of monthly payment arrangement are made with reference to the following-(b)the debtor's employment status;(c)the total amount outstanding;(d)the debtor's socio-economic and/or other circumstances;
18. Collection costs
All legal costs, disbursements, collection commission and any other expenses incurred by the Municipality in order to recover monies owing by a consumer will be debited against the relevant account and collected from the person responsible for it.
19. Dishonoured payments
19.1Should any payment by means of a negotiable instrument be dishonoured by a bank, the Municipality will levy costs and administration fees on the account concerned.19.2Should cheque payments be dishonoured for a third time within a financial year, the Municipality will accept no future payments per cheque from the owner or tenant concerned.
20. Access to premises and the power of inspection
Authorised officials of the Municipality or of a service provider have access to premises at all reasonable hours for the purposes of implementation under this policy; provided that the official concerned must provide the necessary identification upon request by the owner, tenant and/or lawful occupant, and also to the unlawful possessor or holder of the property.
21. Safe accommodation of service connections and appliances
Consumers are responsible for safely accommodating any service connections, meters, stopcocks and appliances and equipment for the safeguarding of services on their premises, and are liable for any costs or losses incurred or damages suffered by the Municipality in this respect that result from the consumer's failure to fulfil the aforementioned responsibility.
22. Unauthorised use of services
22.1A consumer who-(a)uses or gains access to municipal services without approval under section 8.1; or(b)tampers with, breaks or damages any seal, or removes any appliance or equipment which has been installed to measure, provide or restrict the supply of services,will be held liable for payment regarding any unauthorised consumption of services.22.2The Municipality has the right to disconnect water or electricity supply to premises if-(a)such services are used without approval as contemplated in section 22.1 (a); and(b)metering equipment has been wilfully damaged or tampered with as contemplated in section 22.1(b).22.3Without prejudice to the Municipality'S right to institute criminal proceedings, a consumer who tampers with or damages any appliance or equipment as contemplated in section 22.1 (b) is liable for the costs contemplated in section 220.127.116.11In the case of tampering with or damaging of any metering equipment, the owner will held responsible for such tampering or damages unless the owner can prove otherwise.
23. Signing and certification of documents
Any order, notice or other document which needs to be signed or certified by the Municipality is to be regarded as duly signed and certified if done by the Municipal Manager or a duly authorised municipal official.
24. Prima facie evidence
In lawsuits initiated by the Municipality, the court may accept the mere submission of a certificate reflecting the amount due and payable to the Municipality and signed by the Municipal Manager or a duly authorised municipal ofticial as prima facie evidence that the amount is indeed due.
25. Clearance certificates
25.1Upon the sale of any property the Municipality will withhold the clearance certificate required under section 118(1) of the Act until all amounts have been fully paid that became due and payable in connection with that property for municipal service fees,surcharges on fees, property rates and other municipal taxes, levies and duties during the 2 (two) years preceding the date of application for the certificate.25.2All payments must be allocated to the seller's municipal accounts, and all refunds will be made to the seller.25.3No interest will be paid in respect of such payments.25.4The clearance certificate validation period is stipulated to be 120 (one hundred and twenty) days under section 118(1) of the Act, and the amount due must be calculated as follows-(a)applications received on 30 June must include 3 (three) months' advance payments;(b)applications received on 1 July must include-(i)rates and availability charges in advance for the full financial year; and(ii)3 (three) months' advance payments for water, electricity, sewerage services and refuse removal;(c)all other applications must include 3 (three) months' advance payments.25.5Payments under section 25.4 must include all outstanding debts due and payable regarding the property.25.6Under section 118(3) of the Act an amount due for municipal services, surcharges on fees, property rates and other municipal taxes, levies fees and charges is a charge upon the property regarding which the amount is owed, which enjoys preference over any mortgage bond registered against the property.25.7The amount owing is for the account of the registered owner regardless of who incurred the debt. execution to recover outstanding debt due and payable as set out in the court order.
26. Offences and penalties
26.1The following are offences and in contravention of this policy-(a)read with section 20: to refuse, obstruct or hinder access to their property to a duly authorised municipal official wishing to exercise their power to perform a municipal function or duty; or(b)read with sections 22.1(a) and (b) and 22.4: to use unlawfully or to interfere with, tamper or damage municipal equipment.26.2A tampering fee applies to the oft'ences mentioned in section 18.104.22.168Council may decide on further legal remedies, which may include criminal prosecution.