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Ratings sale over unpaid rates to proceed

Published: 20 March 2018

The High Court has confirmed to Auckland Council that Ms Penny Bright’s Kingsland property will be sold by tender on April 24, 2018 to recover unpaid rates and penalties dating back more than 10 years.

In January 2016 the council obtained judgment in the Auckland District Court against Ms Bright of $34,182.56 in unpaid rates and penalties, being the amount outstanding as at 30 June 2015.

Following an unsuccessful appeal by Ms Bright and a statutory six-month stand down period, in December 2017 the council asked the High Court to commence the sale process. 

The sale of the property is a last resort and comes after the council has exhausted all other avenues to resolve the matter. 

“We have written to Ms Bright on a number of occasions and met with her in January in order to discuss payment options. Despite this, Ms Bright has continued to refuse to pay her outstanding rates bill, or arrange a payment plan,” says Auckland Council’s Acting Group Chief Financial Officer, Matthew Walker. 

“While it’s unfortunate that we have reached this next step, the council needs to remain fair to the thousands of Aucklanders who do pay their rates or have a payment plan in place.” 

Mr Walker says that in most other cases of rates and penalties being unpaid for long periods of time, the council has been able to work with the property owner and avoid taking court action. 

“We would urge all property owners who are struggling to pay their rates to contact us so that we can talk through options that won’t cause financial hardship.” 

If an arrangement is not reached with Ms Bright between now and the end of the tender process, the proceeds of the sale will be used to recover the full amount of outstanding rates and penalties and any further costs, including real estate agency and legal fees.

The remainder of the proceeds from the sale will then be released to Ms Bright through the Public Trust. 

Timeline detailing background to Ms Bright’s outstanding rates:

  • Ms Bright stopped making rates payments in 2007.
  • Auckland Council first issued proceedings against Ms Bright in 2011 seeking to recover payment of unpaid rates from June 2006 to June 2011.
  • It obtained judgment by default however that was set aside by the Court on technical grounds.
  • In 2015 the council sought summary judgment for unpaid rates from June 2011 to January 2015.
  • In January 2016, the District Court entered judgment for Auckland Council against Ms Bright for $34,182.56 for outstanding rates and penalties. Costs were awarded in the council’s favour for $13,249.20.
  • In July 2016 the High Court dismissed Ms Bright’s appeal and awarded costs in favour of the council for $7080.00.
  • In March 2017 the council applied to the High Court to enforce the judgment by sale pursuant to section 67 of the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 (LGRA).
  • In May 2017 the High Court issued a notice pursuant to the LGRA requiring Ms Bright to pay the judgment sum, costs and all remaining rates due on the property.
  • After a compulsory six-month stand down period, in December 2017 the council requested the High Court to proceed with the sale of the property.
  • Throughout this period the council has continued to invite Ms Bright to make payment or to arrange a payment plan. No payment or arrangements for a payment plan have been received.