The Transfer Rights Action Campaign contends that legislation holding property owners jointly responsible for electricity and water services debt - viz Section 118(1) of the Municipal Systems Act - amounts to a shirking by the municipalities of their debt collection duties. This section has been declared unconstitutional by the Cape High Court in Mkontwana v Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality and others, - subject to Constitutional Court confirmation, while the KwaZulu-Natal High Court has held the section to be valid.
Gilbert Marcus, arguing for the Johannesburg metropolitan council and the city's water and electricity authority, said that it is the property and not the occupant that municipal services are linked to. Therefore it is the owner who is responsible for services provided even if the property is tenanted.
Parties contesting the legal provisions argued that they deprive landlords of their property arbitrarily, are discriminatory and pose a serious disadvantage to the property market, and that the provisions are in breach of the right to housing and serve no legitimate government purpose.