Can the municipality disconnect my water and electricity?

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Municipalities monitor services to a property, and may cut off the supply of said services in certain circumstances. However, municipalities also have the responsibility of remaining within the legal boundaries of managing the supply of services to properties.

Accounts in arrears

If one of your municipal services is in arrears, the municipality may disconnect whatever service if there are undisputed arrears owed to any other service in connection with the related property. Before any disconnection takes place, the municipality must follow the necessary procedure.

The municipality is legally obligated to give a notice to the person responsible for the account. A minimum of 14 days written notice of termination is required for water and electricity accounts in arrears and if the notice period is shorter than 14 days, or not supplied, any disconnection is illegal. The 14-day notice gives the responsible party an opportunity to present any disputes or queries they may have regarding the account or allow them to repay the arrears.

In the event of a query lodged with the municipality

Once a query relating to the account has been lodged, the municipality may not disconnect services provided that the amount being queried is equal to the amount in arrears. In the case where the amount is less that the amount in arrears, the service may be disconnected for the undisputed amount owing.

When a query has been logged, it can only be valid as long as the monthly bill or any other related payments are being made to the respective account. If the responsible person does not make any form of payment, the service may be disconnected even if a logged query exists with the municipality.

State where the payment should go

If there is an account dispute and the responsible person makes a payment to the municipality, the municipality may choose to allocate that money to any account they wish. This means the account in need of the payment may not have the payment made into it. To curb this, the responsible person must notify the municipality, in writing, of the payments being made as well as which account they should be allocated to. This must be done before payment is made.

For more information regarding property matters, please contact:

 

Lisa Visagie | Partner

E: l.visagie@bissets.com

Areas of Expertise: Property Law & Conveyancing

 

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)