The Municipal Systems Act provides in section 118(3) that so-called ‘historic debt’, i.e. debt relating to a property which is older than two years, remains a charge against the related property. Our courts have confirmed that the implication is that a new owner of such property can therefore be held liable for such debts.
The Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) ruled yesterday that this provision is unconstitutional and that municipalities may not hold a property owner liable for a previous owner’s historical municipal debts. The new owner has no connection to the historical debt and the the section unjustifiably limits the new owner’s property rights under the Constitution This is according to media reports, as a copy of the judgment is not yet available.