Council gets tough on home businesses

Mr Chideme

Mr Chideme

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.”

Pin It
  • sambiri

    Not bad idea considering those people aren’t paying taxes but the city council should also put its card on order as infrastructure and urban migration doesn’t tally. Your services are very poor yet you blame people for mismanagement and incompetent. How can you justify sewage and water problems in Harare? Is it you are owed over $400 million?

  • b c

    Use of houses as business premises began many years ago with Council either turning a blind eye or sleeping on the job. This move should have started a long time ago. One hopes that it will be followed through. Instead of only demanding that the property owners regularise their stay while waiting for the houses’ owners to come forward, Council must immediately start charging commercial rates to all converted houses after formally notifying the property’s owner. Identifying those houses is not difficult as most of the businesses thereat advertise in some way.

  • Tinovaziva

    This government has really gone nuts. No vending, No mabhero, no cars without expensive parking in the CBD, non working traffic lights, roads full of pot holes, roadblocks every 30 metres, car towing, impounding vehicles, in fighting and succession disputes, no to home offices … What positive thing have they done? Help me remember please.

  • Ndinevimbo

    It’s understandable with so many having recently lost jobs in formal employment, affected suburban residents will attempt all means to survive. Indigenous start up scheme initiatives should be commended by Harare City Council, and promoted by incentives of Council waiving all commercial fees for at least the first couple of years as a temporary boost, helping those capable of success to find their feet and achieve financial stability before being hit by full charges.

  • Piankhi

    Here we go again. This country thinks people just have money sitting around. The reason people work from home is because they were retrenched from jobs and have not choice but to try and earn a income. In the mean time the City of Harare waste and steal most of the monies pulled from people in the city and provide no viable services for what people are paying for. The water in Harare is nothing more than poision, You have nothing but theive and crooks running government from top to bottom. A corrupt Minister of Local Government. And the list goes on and on. Nothing but daily, chaos.

    • Rawboy

      Yes; but you can not just let people do as they please in residential areas can you? How would you feel if your next door neighbour set up a business that involved noisy machinery and his customers toing and frowing day in night out? Council is right to act on this one I feel.

  • Rawboy

    Well,that is a separate argument isn’t it! Of course it’s the responsibility of the council to provide services the residents pay for.But ja we all know they are rubbish at this. Vote them out at the next elections is about the only recourse residents have.And maybe legal action?

  • mudhikoni

    what about paying using bond coins? A Budiriro council officer refuses to accept them asking ratepayers to round off to the nearest $. wats the council or rbz position.