Rutendo Rori Herald Reporter
HARARE City Council has descended on residential property owners who illegally converted their homes into business premises. Eight suburbs where home owners have taken advantage of their proximity to town to turn their properties into offices, have been targeted by council.
Council now want the owners to regularise their operations by obtaining business licences and paying the requisite rates.
Harare City Council acting corporate communications manager Mr Michael Chideme confirmed the development yesterday.
“We are currently reviewing local development plans for Hillside, Belvedere, Milton Park, Alexandra Park, Avondale, Belgravia, Eastlea suburbs and the Avenues with a view of integrating different land uses and to regularise some operations.
“During the process we discovered that a sizeable number of properties have been converted into business premises,” said Mr Chideme.
Mr Chideme said these businesses were operating without business licences and the necessary paperwork from the council.
“Council is therefore calling on the businesses to pay for their business licences as part of the regularisation of their operations,” he said.
Last year council gave an upmarket restaurant, Casa Mia in Avondale, an ultimatum to stop operations or risk its structures being demolished.
Council said Casa Mia had been operating illegally by using a residential property for commercial purposes.
Harare has been going through a natural outward growth while CBD offices have been deserted and are mostly occupied by small-to-medium enterprises like tailors and printing companies.
A number of people are converting their homes to business premises after leaving formal employment and are using their skills to start new ventures such as crèches.
Some of the factors influencing urban relocation include high and unaffordable rentals in the CBD.
People are also avoiding parking costs while some are running away from congestion in the CBD.
Meanwhile, council said it is intensifying water disconnections and issuance of summons to all residents with arrears.
“All debtors are urged to make payment arrangements with council to offset their debts which are over 60 days.
“Council revenue officers have been instructed to accept all payments. People intending to make payments will not be turned away,” Mr Chideme said.
“The city is owed over $400 million, a situation that is impacting negatively on its capacity to provide the desired services.”