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Understanding Property Rate in Ghana

This post is a follow-up to a first, How Property Rate is Computed in Accra, Ghana, which was written, at the time in the year 2013, to provide some fill-in to an information gap. Judging from the comments received and references to the post in some academic papers, one can say, the post has served the needs of a whole lot of people, including property owners, ratepayers, students and professionals, who needed authoritative information on property rate in the Ghana.

The purpose of the current post is to provide further information on the subject –Property Rate in Ghana– following an amendment of the former law, Act 462, which provided guidelines to property rate administration. Basically, the provisions of the new Local Governance Act, 2016 – Act 936 and the former Act, with regards to property rates, are the same except for the Sections of the Acts where they appear.

Property rate, in Ghana, basically is a kind of property tax that is administered by Local Authorities. A local authority may be a metropolitan, municipal or a district assembly (MMDA) Today, MMDAs derive their mandate to administer property rates from the provision in Article 245(2) of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana and subsequently from the Local Governance Act, 2016 – Act 936.

Method of Rating

With reference to Section 146 of Act 936, property rate is defined as a general rate “imposed on immovable property at a specified rate per Ghana Cedi on the rateable value of the property but the amount per Ghana Cedi shall vary as between specified areas of the district, except that within a mixed development area, the amount per Ghana Cedi on rateable value shall vary in respect of property used for different purposes. ”

In defining what constitutes a rateable property, the law state: “subject to the exemptions from and remission of rates, rateable premises shall be premises that comprise buildings, structures or similar development.” In Ghana, certain types of property are exempt from property rates.

A number of terminologies have come up above, which we have to understand now before we proceed any further. That will help us to get a good understanding of the subject matter of this post.

Property: Immovable structure in the form of a building, a set of buildings, a structure or similar development. A property may be a condominium, a bungalow, a farmhouse, a shopping mall, skyscraper, etc.

Rateable Value: “The rateable value of premises shall be the replacement cost of the buildings, structures and other structural development that comprises the premises after the deduction of the amount it would cost at the time of valuation to restore the premises to a condition in which they would be as serviceable as they were when new.”

The rateable value shall not be more than fifty per cent of the replacement cost for the premises that are owner-occupied, and not be less than seventy-five per cent of the replacement cost in any other case. This definition is given by the Section 146(9) of Local Governance Act, 2016 – Act 936. The rateable value of a property is given or must be certified by the Land Valuation Division of the Lands Commission.

Rate Impost: This basically is a tax rate; according to the law it is “a specified rate per Ghana Cedi.” Usually in practice, this is expressed as decimals. For instance, the rate impost for a residential property in Airport Residential Area in Accra for the year 2018 was 0.0018600.

The Rate Impost varies for specified areas of a district based on the level of social and economic status or development of each area as manifested by the level of supply of public services and utilities. Also, the rate impost varies by the use to which the property is put. The rate impost for a residential property differs from that for an industrial property and also from mixed use property.

With these terminologies explained, we can proceed to what to take a look at how a typical property rate bill is computed.

Annual Charge or Current Charge: The property rate charge for a given property for any given year shall be the product of the rateable value and the rate impost. The rateable value is multiplied by rate impost or vice versa to obtain the property rate charged. (Rateable Value x Rate Impost = Property Rate Charged). The amount obtained is the Annual Charge or Current Charge.

Minimum charge: Usually MMDAs set minimum charges for specified areas in their respective jurisdictions. As a result the minimum charge is applied in case the product of the rateable value and the rate impost falls below the minimum.

Now how does a bill for property rate look like? It may come on a printed piece of letter sized or A4 paper or smaller, and would bear the following features:

  1. The Name and Logo of the Metropolitan, Municipal, or District, Assembly.
  2. A Date on which the bill is issued.
  3. A Primary Key or Valuation ID number or Account Number: This is a unique identifier for the a property on a property database. It may be numeric or alpha-numeric. An example is AYE16163008 for a property in Ayawaso East Municipal Assembly in Accra.
  4. Property Owners Name
  5. House Number / Physical Address
  6. Name of Suburb or Community
  7. Zone Classification (First Class, Second Class, Third Class, etc.)
  8. Property Use Code (Residential, Mixed Use, Commercial, Industrial, Government Office, etc.)
  9. Rateable Value
  10. Rate Impost
  11. Current Charge
  12. Arrears: Any unpaid charges from previous year(s)
  13. Payment: Previous year’s payment
  14. Adjustments
  15. Amount Due

Other items one may find on the bill are instructions or directions for ratepayers.

Where a ratepayer fails to pay a property rate within a specified time after receipt of a bill, a warning notice shall be posted on the property involved. If the charges are not paid within forty-two days after the notice, the Assembly shall initiate legal steps to recover the amounts involved, and the legal process could lead to an order by the Court for the property to be auctioned to defray the amount of the rate due the Assembly.

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