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Debt-ridden properties

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Council auctions properties as a “step of last resort”

Three debt-ridden properties in the district were auctioned by the Naracoorte-Lucindale Council last week to recoup unpaid rates and legal costs of up to $100,000.

The council says it had to put the properties under the hammer as it had exhausted all other options to recover the debts, which date back to 15 years in some cases.

The properties, two in Kybybolite and one in Naracoorte, were auctioned by a local real estate company.

Upon request, The [Naracoorte Community] News has been provided by council the estimated final debt breakdown of the properties up for auction, which are still subject to some ongoing fees for the sale of property, extra fines, and interest for March.

Estimated final debt breakdown:

  • Property 1 – $32,851.63
  • Property 2 – $16,349.66
  • Property 3 – $44,754.34

Council CEO Trevor Smart said the three properties being auctioned have outstanding debts accumulated over periods ranging from nine, 13, and 15 years.

Mr Smart said the council had made numerous approaches, both informally and formally, with minimal (if any) response from the property owners concerned.

“The council cannot consider selling properties for non-payment of council rates until the debt has accrued over a minimum of three years, and selling properties is a step of last resort when all other avenues and efforts have been exhausted,” he said.

The CEO said the council does make flexible and reasonable arrangements with property owners that are unable to pay their council rates on time.

“…and we understand that more recent cost of living pressures can impact on ability to pay outstanding debts.

“We do, however, have an expectation that property owners do make some effort to contact us if they are unable to pay.

“The significant majority of ratepayers do pay their council rates on time, and we only take legal recovery action against a minority of ratepayers.”

He said ratepayers having difficulties can request the council to help with payment arrangements.

“I encourage any ratepayer that is having difficulty paying their council rates to contact us, and we will consider all reasonable payment arrangements,” Mr Smart said.

The Naracoorte News 10 April 2024

This article appeared in the Naracoorte Community News.

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