Council to sell properties to recover $362K in overdue rates
FOR the first time in a decade, a Northern Rivers council has announced it will be selling off properties which have racked up between five and 10 years of unpaid rates.
On Wednesday the Lismore City Council announced in its fortnightly newsletter Local Matters of its intentions to sell 15 properties in default of payment of rates, which it claims totals $362,568.80.
One of the properties on the hot list is Unit 18, 4 Dixon Place, Lismore, which the document names Belinda Catherine Nott, who was convicted of fraud in 2017, as one of the owners.
The last time council auctioned off properties to recover rates owed was in 2011.
According to the list which was authorised by general manager Shelley Oldham, the decision was made after council took less drastic steps to recover the rates owed.
"Before considering these properties for sale, council has taken all reasonable steps, under its Debt Recovery Policy, in an attempt to recover the debt," she said.
"This process includes reminder letters, demand letters and legal action (and) in some cases, we organised support conferences with ratepayers and undertook onsite assistance."
Ms Oldham said the decision was made because the owners of these 15 properties have unpaid rates for more than five years, and in most cases more than 10 years.
"Council is not in the financial position to be able to carry these debts," she said.
"For this reason, councillors decided at their June 2020 meeting that it was fair and equitable to all ratepayers that these properties are sold to recover the unpaid debt."
Ms Oldham said the decision to name the people was made, as councils are given power to sell land for the purpose of recovering overdue rates and charges under the Local Government Act 1993.
"Council must strictly comply with the legislative requirements," she said.
"One of those requirements is to name the person who owns the title to the property, this allows a third party who may have a claim on the property to come forward.
"If we did not do this, we would have been in breach of the Act and also opened up council and ratepayers to possible legal action from a third part."
Ms Oldham said once the rates and costs are recovered, the remainder of the proceeds is held in trust and is transferred to the owner upon request.
She said the recovery of the unpaid rates for the 15 properties was in train before COVID-19.
"Councillors decided at their March meeting to provide some rate relief due to the impact of COVID-19," she said.
"This included extending the interest-free period on overdue notices by 60 days for those who successfully applied, reducing the minimum weekly repayment for overdue rates to $25 for those who requested new arrangements and to stop all new legal action."
And it's not too late for those tardy owners to pay the debt, she said.
Those listed can avoid the sales of their properties by either making a payment in full or by proposing, in writing, a payment plan that is acceptable to council," she said.
"It is also important to note, that councillors will have a further opportunity to remove properties from the sale process closer to the auction date."
The council said land will be offered for sale by the public auction by Wal Murray & Co Real Estate at Lismore City Hall 1 Bounty St, Lismore on Saturday November 28 at 10am.
The properties listed by council for sale are:
1 Atlas St, East Lismore
129 Bridge St, North Lismore
5 Cassia Cres, Goonellabah
28 Oakeshott St, Lismore Heights
28 Engine St, South Lismore
5 Fowler St, Lismore
35A Invercauld Rd, Goonellabah
73-75 Phyllis St, South Lismore
13-15 Crane St, North Lismore
99-103 Tweed St, North Lismore
8 Wade St, East Lismore
370 Rose Rd, Tuntable Creek
Unit 18, 4 Dixon Place, Lismore
325 Bice Rd, Leycester
63 City View Drive, East Lismore
Council said the properties will be offered for sale by the public auction by Wal Murray & Co Real Estate at Lismore City Hall 1 Bounty St, Lismore on Saturday 28 November 2020 at 10am.