Answer to a question from a reader

What does the law says about minors who cannot pay outstanding municipal debt on an RDP house?

The short answer

The children qualify as an indigent household.

The whole question

My sister died in 2004 and left two young boys. The municipality is still demanding outstanding rates on her RDP house. What does the law says when minors who are the beneficiaries of an RDP house cannot afford to pay outstanding municipal debt?

The long answer

Although different municipalities may operate differently, basically a child-headed household is one where the only people occupying the property are the children who are the beneficiaries of the house, and who are under the legal age to sign a contract for municipal service, which is 18 years old.  

A child-headed household is automatically considered an indigent household. An indigent household is one where the residents earn below R4500 a month. People who are registered as indigent qualify for a subsidy in the form of free basic services in terms of electricity, water, sanitation, rubbish removal and property rates. An indigent household will be required to be fitted with a prepaid electricity and prepaid water meter. An indigent household can also apply for a one-time write off of the municipal debt. 

The children must go to the municipality with their legal representative or guardian to register as an indigent household to receive an indigent subsidy from the municipality.

If the children are older than 18 now, but their income is less than R4500 they can still apply to be considered an indigent household, and can still apply for a write-off of the municipal debt.

If the municipality insists that the debt cannot be written off, you could consult a paralegal organisation like the Black Sash, who could advise you on the best course to follow. These are their contact details:

Helpline: 072 663 3739


Answered on July 22, 2020, 11:40 a.m.

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