Are you eligible for Council rates relief? by Roslyn Morshead, of Rotorua Morshead Law

Did you know that some homeowners who meet certain criteria may be eligible to apply for a reduction of their annual council rates of up to $605.00 in the rating year, and in some circumstances homeowners can apply for postponement of their annual rates payments?

For the annual rebate/reduction option there are a number of criteria, but you may qualify if your income before tax is less than $24,250.00 including any WINZ allowances, tax credits and other income. Even if your income before tax is over the threshold amount you may still be eligible for a depending on the number of dependents living with you and the amount of rates you already pay – so it’s still worth finding out.

Another option is to apply to Council for postponement of all or part of your rates indefinitely, or until your property is sold. Eligibility criteria still apply and I recommend you think about your reasons for choosing the postponement option very carefully because with this option you will incur one-off application fees, annual administration charges, interest on the amounts outstanding, and registration of a document on your certificate of title to ensure Council are paid back in the future.

How do you apply? You apply each rating year for the annual rebate/reduction option, but only once for the postponement option. You will be asked to provide details of your income, dependents and other information so Council can assess your application. Note that you may still qualify even if you live in a retirement village under an occupation licence, or your home is in Trust. But, you can’t have the annual rebate and a postponement – it’s one or the other.

If you are uncomfortable about going in to Council offices or aren’t sure how the different options work, perhaps ask a trusted friend or family member to go with you. The next rating year almost upon us, so it’s worth talking to Council to find out if you qualify.