AUCTIONS CANCELLED: After years of trying to get unpaid rates it took Lismore City Council to place the properties up for auction before homeowners came to an arrangement to pay the amounts owed.
AUCTIONS CANCELLED: After years of trying to get unpaid rates it took Lismore City Council to place the properties up for auction before homeowners came to an arrangement to pay the amounts owed.

Why council cancelled auction on homes with overdue rates

THREE days before homes went under the hammer to recover long-overdue property rates, Lismore City Council has reached an agreement with the owners.

It is understood council will now only proceed with the sale of vacant land.

Mayor Issac Smith said this was a good outcome for the homeowners and all ratepayers.

“Selling someone’s home for unpaid rates is always the very last resort and something we will never take lightly,” he said.

“I am extremely relieved that we have been able to reach a satisfactory agreement with all the homeowners to address outstanding amounts, consistent with Council’s policies to support residents facing hardship.”

Mayor Smith said this has been a tough and unfortunate process to go through.

“But it is important that we deliver fair and equitable treatment of ratepayers,” he said.

“While supporting those in vulnerable circumstances.”

Council announced in August last year that 15 properties would be sold at auction to recover unpaid rates, some with overdue rates of up to $42,000.

Council’s General Manager Shelley Oldham said council staff have been working with affected homeowners to ensure they made use of council’s Hardship policy and had access to all relevant support services so that appropriate settlements could be reached.

“It was an unsettling process for all concerned, but council feels we have made sufficient progress to ensure the sales do not go ahead,” she said.

“I would like to acknowledge the homeowners and council staff who have worked together with much goodwill to achieve this very positive outcome.

“We also thank Legal Aid Lismore, Lismore & District Financial Counselling Service and NSW Trustee and Guardian for their ongoing engagement with council and advocacy on behalf of these residents.”

Ms Oldham said council is also very aware of the lack of affordable housing and rental properties across all of the Northern Rivers.

“We believe today’s outcome balances fairness with compassion against this difficult backdrop,” she said.

Council has been contacted in connection with how much this process has cost ratepayers and if the back rates owed will be paid in full.