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VIC Casey Council Rates Agreement - How to Deal with Summons?

Discussion in 'Other/General Law Forum' started by Kathryn jansen, 27 July 2015.

  1. Kathryn jansen

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    Tonight I received a summons for rates not paid by Casey council.
    Previously I had written to the council and we agreed on a payment plan of $200 per fortnight, unfortunately I could not manage to continually pay this amount per fortnight, but I did pay $200 per month, my last payment was last week.

    Yet tonight I received the summons , I thought that making payments would holt any action by the council?

    Could you please advise
     
  2. @thelawbundle

    @thelawbundle Well-Known Member

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    Hi Kathryn,
    Sorry to hear that this has happened.
    Firstly, I'm not sure how the agreement was reached between yourself and Council.

    However, I'm going to assume for now that you've contacted Council about the amount of outstanding rates and in accordance with their financial hardship policy (available here: Financial Hardship Policy - City of Casey that you have entered into some sort of written agreement with Council to make those $200 repayments.

    I also assume that Council told you (or recorded it in the agreement) that if you fail to make payments as per the agreement, then they will take further action. However, if you were told one thing by Council, and they have now done another, then you might be able to raise this in your defence (discussed below).

    It doesn't look like you dispute that you've missed the payment. Accordingly, the chances are that Council is now able to apply for judgement from a Court that the amount of outstanding rates is debt which you owe.

    From my experience (in Queensland), the advantage of a Council doing this is that: if they have a Court order which says that they are owed the rates debt, and those rates remain overdue for 3 years, then Council can apply to sell your property to recover those outstanding rates. This would seems to be the case in Victoria, also.

    Accordingly, I see the following options:
    1) if you haven't already, contact Council and request a waiver of the rates on the basis that paying those rates will cause you financial hardship. Council may request evidence from you - and then you will need to prove this. If Council is satisfied that you would be put to financial hardship, it may excuse you from part of the rates; and/or

    2) if you can pay the outstanding rates, by finding the outstanding amount from somewhere, Council will likely withdraw its application for summary judgement (or at least, this will prevent the Council from obtaining judgement that the amount is properly owing to them); or

    3) if you cannot pay the outstanding amount, the Council will likely proceed to obtain judgement against you that a debt is owing to them. If you don't believe that the debt is owing to them, then you can defend the matter by appearing on the date that you are summoned (with a lawyer if you like) and make your case. If the debt is owing to Council, and you do not wish to defend the matter, then the Council will likely obtain what we call a "summary judgement" which is an order from the Court, stating that you owe Council the relevant debt. Once that is done, Council could "enforce judgement" by having you attend Court again and declare your income so that the Court can "garnish you" (i.e. make you enter into another repayment plan - which you will need to comply with, or risk being in contempt of Court, which is an imprisonable offence). In my experience, this course of action would be unlikely given that your first repayment plan has been unsuccessful. As I say - Council is simply likely to obtain and sit on the judgement until your rates have been unpaid for 3 years and then use its powers to sell your house, or transfer it to itself, to recover its rates. So, the sooner that you can pay the rates debt off - the better.

    All of the above is based on my experience in Queensland. Whilst I imagine Victoria is similar, you should check that the above is accurate (with your local community legal service if no-one else is able to confirm this for you via LawAnswers).

    I have made some assumptions in the above comments. Please let me know if there was anything important that we're not aware of.

    Thanks.
     

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