A Pongaroa resident who lost everything in a fire in 2015 owes thousands of dollars in rates but has not taken up opportunities offered to settle the debt.
Tararua District Council is owed around $16,000 of unpaid rates, plus penalties on the property from the last six years.
There is also an amount owed to Horizons Regional Council of around $4000.
The property has been advertised for tender in a rating sale to settle the arrears.
The land's rateable value is $35,000.
District council rates in 2015 were around $1600 and are now more than $2300 per year.
Council group manager of corporate Raj Suppiah said every effort had been made to contact the property owner since the rates went into arrears.
He said the situation the property owner was in was not something that was taken lightly.
"We are selling someone's property so we don't take it lightly. We exhaust all other avenues first before we go down the path of a rating sale."
Suppiah said whenever a rating sale was done, it was taken back to council so they could be informed that was what was happening.
He said whenever anyone went into arrears, they would go through the process of contacting the owner, following up with letters and then once that was exhausted, it would go to debt collection.
Debt collection would start its own process and if there was still no attempt by the ratepayer to settle the issue, the council would need approval via the court to start the rating sale process, keeping the ratepayer informed at every step.
"It's a long, drawn out process of going through the court. At any time and through the process, the court will issue her notice, so she's kept informed. At any time during the process she could halt it by saying she's going to pay the rates or she's going to sell the land to settle council rates."
Suppiah said there were other ratepayers in the district who were struggling, but had made arrangements to pay a minimum payment each week.
"So those are the ones that even though they owe us, we work with them."
All contacts made with the ratepayer were recorded in a log.
Suppiah said that one important conversation they'd had with the ratepayer was that one of the options given was that if she didn't want the property, it was in her interest to sell it rather than the council as she was more likely to get a better return.
He said that this option had been given to her in 2019.
"We did advise the owner that if they were unable to pay the rates and if they had explored an option for selling the land then they should do it on their own."
But the owner, whom Hawke's Bay Today understands was no longer living in Pongaroa, has not taken up the option.
Even now, despite the property being advertised for tender, they still had rights to the title and could halt the process so they could sell it and pay off the debt.
Suppiah understood that despite the assurances from the ratepayer that water services had been disconnected at the property, that had not been done as they had received no certification.
"It's a shame that it had to come to this," he said. "We have an obligation to council and … to ratepayers."
Hawke's Bay Today has attempted to track down the ratepayer but has been unable to do so.