A $21,404.80 unpaid rates bill is owed on an Arch Hill house but one of its owners is refusing to pay due to a property dispute.
Tolo Byrne said his late stepfather, Patrick Byrne, had owned the house at 34 Cooper St but before he died six years ago, he had transferred it into trust.
That left Tolo Byrne angry about the ownership and now blankly refusing to pay the rates, though he acknowledges he is a part-owner due to his status with the family trust.
But he believes his stepfather did not realise what he was doing when he put the house in the trust.
"He didn't know what trusts were and twice tried to have it dissolved before he died," Byrne said.
Now, he fears Auckland Council could sell it.
"Council have threatened the next step is to sell the property," he said, although the council refused to discuss the trouble.
Byrne remains unhappy about the ownership transfer and is one of four beneficiaries, along with stepbrother Kevin Byrne and two other brothers.
"I agree I owe part of it but I won't pay because of the change of ownership. I'm responsible for part of the rates but it's a moral issue."
His mother, Malelega Luma Byrne, 70, has lived in the house for 39 years and Tolo Byrne said she received the rates bills directly from the council. But because her name was not on the title, she had no power over the situation and might have to leave. Nor could she borrow against the house to visit family in Australia.
"I don't worry about anything. I'm really strong and really happy," Mrs Byrne said.
But a March 24 Auckland Council letter threatened that unless the bill was paid, it could contact the mortgage holder, get a court judgment for the arrears or take bankruptcy or winding up proceedings.
"I moved here in 1976 when I married Pat," Mrs Byrne said, showing off the house on the Seddon St corner. "I've got it just how I like it."
She said the situation was unfair and although the rates bill went unpaid, she covered other bills such as Watercare.
The house had a council CV of $960,000 last July but Tolo Byrne said it would probably now fetch about $1.2 million to $1.3 million.
The property did not appear as one of eight which the council released last month with $300,595 rates collectively owed.
Rob Coltman, of lawyers Fortune Manning, said his firm had acted for Patrick Byrne and had been appointed the independent trustee after he put his property into a family trust. The firm had been appointed alongside family member trustees, Coltman said.
But the firm resigned as a trustee in 2011 and no longer acted to any of the parties.
Kevin Ramsay, council chief financial officer, released a list of properties with large overdue rates bills. The council was working through that list, using the court process, he said.
Action is imminent in one case on that list with the highest unpaid rates bill.
At 9am on April 22, Barfoot & Thompson will auction a vacant North Shore section with $59,393 unpaid rates. Activist Penny Bright's house in School Rd, Kingsland has unpaid rates of $33,598.45, yet the council lost its High Court action against her because it made a technical flaw in its evidence. That resulted in Bright being granted an application to set aside the judgment allowing the council to force the sale of her place.
Ramsay's list also included $25,319.61 owed on a New Lynn commercial premises, $74,402.02 owed on Henderson commercial premises, $41,881.78 owed on a Sandringham house, $16,470.80 owed on West Auckland premises and $10,282.86 owed on a Manurewa residence.
• Cooper St, Arch Hill, owned by trust, $21,404.80 rates owed
• Northboro Rd, Belmont, $59,393 rates owed
• School Rd, Kingsland, owned by Penny Bright, $33,598.45 rates owed.