Armidale Regional Council will auction 59 homes after owners failed to pay their rates

BLUDGERS will have their homes put under the auctioneer’s hammer later this year.

Armidale Regional Council will put almost 60 properties up for auction for failure to pay their rates.

Chief executive Chris Rose said the owners have received numerous requests to cough up on their outstanding charges or settle their debt to council.

“It is unfortunate council has to take this path,” he said.

“However, if council did not act to recoup the outstanding amounts, it would be unfair on ratepayers who pay their rates in full and on time.”

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The total price tag on the 59 properties is $748,300, roughly a quarter of the total outstanding rates and charges owed to council, that stood at $2.455 million at the end of June last year.

Among the properties listed for Saturday’s sale, the highest amount outstanding is $75,811 for a property in Armidale.

The cheapest comes in at $2,391 for a property in Brushy Creek – some are small parcels of land without dwelling entitlements.

Council will splash the auction in the local press, along with details of the properties.

“Property owners are advised to contact council if they are falling behind in paying rates,” Mr Rose said.

"We can work out an agreeable payment plan or, in some cases, they can apply for hardship rate relief.

"Plus, rates can also be paid on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis via direct debit, rather than waiting until the quarterly bill."

All NSW councils have a similar policy addressing debt recovery for unpaid rates.

They are bound by the NSW Local Government Act 1993 that gives councils the power to sell land where rates have not been paid for more than five years or, for vacant land, when the amount overdue exceeds the current land valuation provided by the Valuer General.

Council’s debt recovery and hardship policy allows it to offer a range of assistance measures.

Landowners can submit a form explaining their circumstances and each request is considered by council on a case-by-case basis.

Mr Rose said the decision to sell properties for unpaid rates at a public auction is a last resort to recover debts to Council.

“It really does not have to end this way. We understand the cost-of-living pressures facing many community members,” he said.

“As well as options for periodic payments to ease the financial burden of a quarterly bill, interest on outstanding amounts can be waived if the landowner’s situation meets necessary criteria in Council’s hardship policy.

“I cannot emphasise enough the importance of contacting council if you are having difficulty meeting your rate payment obligations.”

The properties will be auctioned on Friday September 14 at Armidale Town Hall from 10am.

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