If you don’t pay your rates to the council then they can sell your property. In August last year Lismore City Council (LCC) announced that 15 properties would be sold at auction to recover unpaid rates, some with overdue rates of up to $42,000.
In an announcement this morning LCC has said that the homes that they were looking to auction to recover the unpaid rates are no longer going ahead. However, they are proceeding with the auction of some of the vacant land as a means of rate recovery.
Mayor Isaac Smith said this was a good outcome for the homeowners and all ratepayers.
Selling someone’s home for unpaid rates is always the very last resort and something we will never take lightly,’ he said.
‘I am extremely relieved that we have been able to reach a satisfactory agreement with all the homeowners to address outstanding amounts, consistent with Council’s policies to support residents facing hardship.
‘It has been a tough and unfortunate process to go through, but it is important that we deliver fair and equitable treatment of ratepayers, while supporting those in vulnerable circumstances.’
According to the Ombudsman NSW website, ‘Councils can only sell land and recover rates if they have been outstanding for five years or more.’
Councils are entitled to charge interest on unpaid overdue rates but they can also enter agreements for the ratepayer to pay by instalments or waive or reduce any interest on overdue rates.
Council’s general manager Shelley Oldham said Council staff have been working with affected homeowners to ensure they made use of Council’s Hardship policy and had access to all relevant support services so that appropriate settlements could be reached.
‘It was an unsettling process for all concerned, but Council feels we have made sufficient progress to ensure the sales do not go ahead,’ she said.
‘I would like to acknowledge the homeowners and Council staff who have worked together with much goodwill to achieve this very positive outcome. We also thank Legal Aid Lismore, Lismore & District Financial Counselling Service and NSW Trustee and Guardian for their ongoing engagement with Council and advocacy on behalf of these residents.
‘Council is also very aware of the lack of affordable housing and rental properties across all of the Northern Rivers, and we believe today’s outcome balances fairness with compassion against this difficult backdrop.’