Auckland Council has asked the High Court to proceed with the sale of a Kingsland property owned by Ms Penny Bright to recover unpaid rates and penalties dating back to 2007.
The council obtained a judgment against Ms Penny Bright in the Auckland District Court in January 2016.
Following an unsuccessful appeal by Ms Bright and a statutory six-month stand down period, the council has now asked the High Court to commence the sale process.
“Taking enforcement action to recover unpaid rates is the last resort and happens very rarely,” says Auckland Council’s Acting Group Chief Financial Officer Matthew Walker.
“The council has written to Ms Bright regularly over the last six months offering to resolve this matter. We have also offered to meet with her to discuss rates postponement, which she has declined.
“While we would prefer not to have reached this point, the council needs to be fair to the thousands of Aucklanders who do pay their rates or have a payment plan in place.
“It’s important for property owners to know that there are always options available to resolve unpaid rates without causing financial hardship, including through a rates postponement. As a result, in almost all cases like this, we have been able to avoid taking enforcement action.”
The judgment was for $34,182.56 in rates and penalties outstanding as at 30 June 2015. The council has been awarded total costs in the District and High Courts of $20,329.20.
If an arrangement can’t be reached with Ms Bright and the sale of the property goes ahead, it 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 would be released to Ms Bright through the Public Trust.
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 apply for a rates postponement. No payment or application has been received.