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Collecting council rates is essential for running a community but in tough economic times the number of people defaulting on their payments climbs. Upper Hutt City Council is using Terranet's property data to track down these property owners and collect their unpaid rates in a move that will benefit the entire community.
Upper Hutt City Council Rates Team Leader Rae Dalton says more and more ratepayers are defaulting on their payments.
"Our biggest challenge is encouraging people to communicate with us.
"There are many reasons people don't pay their rates and we just need to talk to them about why they haven't paid. Penalties can be avoided if we can talk to the ratepayer and find a solution that works for everyone."
"It's about communicating with us, rather than avoiding the problem and hoping it will go away," she says.
Rae says tracking down ratepayers isn't always as simple as opening the phone book and calling, or visiting the property to speak to the owner.
"The owner of any rating unit is the person liable for the rates but they aren't always the person who occupies the property. Often, we need to find out more about the property to track down the appropriate ratepayer."
Rae says the solution to tracking down ratepayers is gathering as much information as possible on the property itself.
"We use Terranet to research who the property owner is. If we only have limited information on a property we can search for them through their street address, valuation, title reference, or the name of the owner. If we can't find them we use Terranet to check if they own a property elsewhere in New Zealand and we can track them down via an alternative address.
"Terranet has all the up-to-date information we need in one place, it's the complete solution for us," she says.
If council officers are still unable to contact the ratepayer after exhausting every other avenue, they will write to the mortgagee.
"We can contact the ratepayer's bank advising them of the outstanding rates, and they may have an option to add it to their mortgage," Rae says.
"The council relies on rates to fund all the services and facilities Upper Hutt residents enjoy. When people don't pay their rates the whole community is affected. But with Terranet's help we can track them down, recoup the money and continue to provide essential services for everyone," Rae says.