Covid19 & Rates - Questions & Answers


These questions and answers address the rates situation as part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For information on all other Council facilities and services - please visit our COVID-19 page.

What is the Council doing about rates in response to the COVID-19 emergency?

Budgets for the 2020/21 rates were reviewed and savings were made to reduce the rates increase for next year from 4% to 1.5%.

Increases will vary depending on the property, due to the different combinations of rates paid and the effect of the general revaluation.  Generally speaking an average property will see an increase of $45 for the year or $11.25 per quarter.

Measures introduced earlier by the Council for payment assistance are still available:

  • Defer the payment of the next instalment
  • Check if you qualify for a rates rebate – if you have a gross household income of around $38,000 or less let us know
  • Spread your payments equally over the instalment period or beyond
  • Reducing the frequency of an existing direct debit to make smaller more regular payments
  • Reduce the amount of your direct debit temporarily until your situation improves
  • Investigate other forms of financial assistance that may be available such as, talking to your bank.

What options are available for those struggling financially?

We are offering to set up payment plans with ratepayers to pay their rates over a timeframe that works with their individual budgets. This can take a range of different forms depending on your particular circumstances.

Measures available are:

  • Defer the payment of the next instalment
  • Check if you qualify for a rates rebate – if you have a gross household income of around $35,000 or less let us know
  • Spread your payments equally over the instalment period or beyond
  • Reducing the frequency of an existing direct debit to make smaller more regular payments
  • Reduce the amount of your direct debit temporarily until your situation improves
  • Investigate other forms of financial assistance that may be available such as, talking to your bank.

Because rates are due every three months, amounts can accumulate quickly if no payments are being made, so generally speaking it is better that some level of payment continues to be made instead of accumulating. However if that will cause financial hardship, then payment can be delayed.

If you are able to pay the instalment due now, we would appreciate your payment before 27 May.

I am a business landlord and am not receiving rent as my tenant cannot pay, can I get a rates holiday until I get a new tenant?

If the tenant has closed their business as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, we can discuss a payment arrangement with you to extend the time for rates payment.

I am a landlord and my tenant has lost their job, how can I pay?

If the tenant is not paying rent, we can discuss a payment arrangement with you to extend the time for rates payment.

If I have lost my job can I qualify for the rates rebate now?

Rates rebates are based on income earned in the preceding tax year. For the current year, the rates rebate is based on gross household income for the tax year ending 31 March 2019.

Rates rebates for the 2020/21 rating year will be based on gross household income for the tax year ending 31 March 2020.

Rates rebate applications require a declaration that must be signed and witnessed by an authorised person. Council staff are not able to witness rates rebate declarations during the lockdown. If you may qualify for a rates rebate, contact us now and we can make arrangements for after the lockdown.

Can I qualify for the Accommodation Supplement to help pay my rates?

Yes, the Accommodation Supplement does apply in certain circumstances. This is a Government payment and is not administered by the Council.

Payment amounts will depend on a person’s financial position (assets and income), accommodation costs, family circumstances and where they live.

You can apply for the supplement through Work and Income either online or by phone on 0800 559 009. A phone appointment will then be arranged once an application is processed.

What’s the best way to pay my rates?

The best option is to set up a direct debit to pay rates in weekly, fortnightly or monthly instalments. We take responsibility for setting the correct level of payment, and once it is set up you won’t be as risk of incurring any penalty charges.

Other forms of payment, like automatic payments and internet banking require the rates to be cleared by the instalment due dates while direct debit spreads the amount over the full 12 months.

If you do not want to set up a direct debit, our staff will help you to set up a payment arrangement over a timeframe that works for you.

How do I start a direct debit?

An application form is available on our website, or call us on 0800 965 468. You select the frequency of the direct debit and the date you would like it to start.

When we receive the completed form we will advise you of the amount you are required to pay and confirm the start date.

You can reduce an existing direct debit if you’re experiencing hardship. It is better to reduce your direct debit if you can, rather than stopping it altogether. This means that later, when you are in a position to pay more, there is a smaller balance to catch up.

Use the online form, or phone 0800 965 468 to adjust your direct debit.

If you need to stop your direct debit, we can either pause it for a payment or two, or stop it for a longer period.

To pause or stop your direct debit use the online form or phone 0800 965 468.

If you make any changes to your direct debit, we usually recommend that you advise us 48 hours before your payment is due to go out. However while the COVID-19 lockdown is in place it would be helpful if longer notice could be given.

How can I make a cash or eftpos payment?

During the lockdown our Service Centres are closed so we are unable to accept eftpos or cash payments.

This is a good time to consider moving to direct debit. You are able to set up a quarterly direct debit to pay each instalment when it’s due.

An application form is available on the website, use the link below, or call us on 0800 965 468. You select the frequency of the direct debit and the date you would like it to start

You can also pay online by credit card (a processing fee applies) or account2account through the Council website. For more information, check out our online services page.

How can I set up internet banking to pay my rates?

You can do this from your online banking site. Be very careful to use the correct references (you will find these on your invoice) so that your payment is correctly applied to your properties rates. An example of how to set up the reference details is available on our paying your rates page. If you are unsure, or have any questions, talk to us on 0800 965 468.

My rates were already overdue, do I get more time to catch up or will I get a penalty?

Talk to us about a setting up a payment plan to catch up on your rates payments. You will get time to bring the rates up to date, but it is important that you act now to get a plan in place.

Will the Council tell my mortgagee if I am late paying my rates?

If the rates are in arrears and you are making payments under an approved payment arrangement, the Council will not approach your mortgagee or seek payment of the rates from them.

Please note that if your mortgagee approaches the Council and asks for details of unpaid rates, we will provide that information to them.

The Council has already gone to my mortgagee about rates arrears, what happens now?

Those accounts involve the recovery of rates arrears from prior to 1 July 2019, and will be dealt with on a case by case basis.