Rates - Late / Non Payment of Rates
Late payment of rates
The Local Government Act provides that Councils impose a penalty of 2% on any payment for rates, whether instalment or otherwise, that is received late. A payment that continues to be late is then charged an interest rate, set each year according to a formula in the Act, for each month it continues to be late. The purpose of this penalty is to act as a genuine deterrent to ratepayers who might otherwise fail to pay their rates on time, to allow Councils to recover the administrative cost of following up unpaid rates and to cover any interest cost the Council may meet because it has not received the rates on time.
After the payment date has expired any ratepayer who has had late payment penalties applied and is aggrieved by such imposition must apply in writing to the Council stating their reasons if they seek remission of the penalties.
When the Council receives a payment in respect of overdue rates the Council applies the money received as follows:
first - to satisfy any costs awarded in connection with court proceedings;
second - to satisfy any interest costs;
third - in payment of any fines imposed;
fourth - in payment of rates, in date order of their imposition (starting with the oldest account first).
Recovery procedure for outstanding rates
In all instances where a ratepayer has difficulty in meeting payment of rates or charges by the due date, Council strongly recommends and encourages ratepayers to contact relevant senior staff and/or write to Council to make alternative payment arrangements. When this is done (as outlined above) legal proceedings can be avoided.
Where no contact has been received from a ratepayer or agreed alternative arrangements have been ignored the following procedure will be implemented.
Within 7 days of rates or charges first becoming in arrears a NOTICE OF FINE imposing the statutory fine of 2% will be issued.
Within 7 days of these charges incurring a further fine (1 month later), a further NOTICE OF FINE imposing the statutory fine pursuant to the provisions of the Local Government Act be issued.
Within a further 7 days Council will write a FINAL WARNING LETTER advising that legal proceedings to collect the debt will be commenced after 14 days, except in cases where Council or the Chief Executive Officer has approved alternative payment arrangements.
Upon the expiration of the prescribed time of the FINAL WARNING LETTER that Council issue summons in the Local Court for the collection of the debt pursuant to the Local Government Act, or authorise an approved debt collection agency to initiate the appropriate action.
Sale of land for non-payment of rates
The Local Government Act provides that a Council may sell any property where the rates have been in arrears for three years or more. The Council is required to provide the principal ratepayer and the owner (if not the same person) with details of the outstanding amounts and advise the owner of its intention to sell the land if payment of the outstanding amount is not received within one month.
The District Council of Cleve only considers such action as a last resort if more acceptable solutions are not available.