Ratepayer forced to sell possessions as QLDC takes money from bank account

by Peter Newport - Jun 24, 2024

A Queenstown Lakes District Council ratepayer discovered this morning that the council had taken $3365 from his bank account forcing him into an unauthorised overdraft.

The ratepayer does not want his name used in order to protect his partner and two young children.

He had asked the QLDC last year to agree a payment plan so that overdue rates could be paid off in instalments, but he says the council refused. He's been unable to work due to health issues and has been trying to work with his bank and other organisations to handle the resulting financial pressure in a responsible manner.

This morning (June 24) he was literally on his way to buy milk when his partner called to say their joint account was overdrawn due to the council's rates deduction.

"I had to go back home to sort this out, with no money available for milk or anything else for that matter."

"It was a question of what possessions can we sell to cover the amount now owed to the bank. The bank even charged me a $20 fee for an unauthorised overdraft."

In urgent talks with QLDC today he says the council has offered to refund the $3365 but only if he agrees to a payment plan of over $500 per month. The $3365 is just one year's rates with the total amount owed covering two years - almost $7,000.

"The council says they'll use the same unannounced bank withdrawal system later this year for the second year's rates"

"We asked for a payment plan last year and they refused. Their rates invoices don't make it clear what is owed" the ratepayer has told Crux.

Crux has recently revealed that council staff agree that it's a "systemic issue" that reminders are not sent. We have approached this ratepayer's bank and QLDC for comment.

The amount of overdue rates owed to the Queenstown Lakes District Council has increased to more than $7 million from $5.7 million just a year ago.

A total of 644 households (totalling $2.1 million in unpaid rates) are more than a year overdue.

Crux understands QLDC has contacted the personal banks of 594 properties looking to get their rates money through what's termed a "bank mortgage call".

This process allows the council to "recover as a debt from the first mortgage of a rating unit" under Section 62 of the Local Government (rating) Act of 2002.

We are keen to hear from other ratepayers who also may have found money being taken from their personal accounts by QLDC. Please contact [email protected] 

QLDC rates are now amongst the highest in the country with a recent rise averaging 14.2 percent but that increase is much higher for some properties. 


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