Covid-19 hit property owners struggling to pay 2019/2020 final rates can in some cases extend this week's payment deadline - by up to six months depending on where they live.

Rates critically underpin Northland's four-council $566 million-plus 2019/2020 local government spending budget.

"We know many of our residents are struggling financially, because they have lost their job or their incomes have been reduced," Far North District Council (FNDC) mayor John Carter said.

Qualifying FNDC ratepayers can get up to six months to pay their final quarter rates.
Whangārei District Council (WDC) is for the first time extending the payment deadline until June 20 for those who are having trouble.


Rates demands for about 180,000 properties are now with Northland property ratepayers, their traditional rates payment deadline is on May 20 – and covers April, May and June.
Northland ratepayers pay two sets of rates - local district council rates and Northland Regional Council (NRC) rates. The NRC rates are collected by the region's three district councils on its behalf.

Covid 19 coronavirus: Northland councils looking at rates options
Covid 19 coronavirus: Northland councils looking at various relief measures

Dave Tams, NRC group manager corporate excellence, said he was aware a number of people had already asked for rates payment plans.

"The district councils are working through each case and will advise us accordingly," Tams said.

"We just do not know the full impact yet, but will obviously be sympathetic to members of our community who are struggling to pay rates and will work with our colleagues in the district councils to find an appropriate solution," he said.

The 2019/2020 final rates payment deadline extension is among a raft of measures the North's three district councils are taking to address Covid-19-impacted residents.

District councils said it's still too early to tell exactly how many people will have difficulty paying this instalment. This week's traditional payment deadline will more clearly highlight this.

"At this stage, it is too early to identify trends. We are seeing payments coming in but the majority of people choose to leave payment until the due date," Sue Davidson, Kaipara District Council (KDC) general manager sustainable growth and investment said.

Will Taylor, FNDC general manager – corporate services said, so far, online final quarter rates payments had started coming in and were roughly similar to the same time last year.


But exactly how things shaped up would not become clear until this week.

Meanwhile, there has been an increase in the number of people seeking rates relief across much of the region.

"We're seeing a rise in the number of calls, and discussions around how our ratepayers can spread or manage payments," Davidson said.

"(Ratepayers) are taking up the option of calling us to arrange a payment plan which is good news," she said.

There has been an increase in people seeking rates relief across the region. Photo / John Stone
There has been an increase in people seeking rates relief across the region. Photo / John Stone

Alison Puchaux, WDC revenue manager, said ratepayers had been in contact with the council.

"We have been contacted by almost 100 ratepayers to make payment arrangements due to Covid-19. We are working with them, either pausing or extending the payment period,
Taylor said more than 140 enquiries had come in to FNDC within the first week of the rates demands late April sendout.


FNDC ratepayers seeking rates payment extension qualify if they have lost their income, get government pandemic support or are eligible for a mortgage holiday.

Ratepayers are being encouraged to talk to their local councils.

"We are trying to be flexible with our ratepayers, and do what we can to help, but we do need people to talk to us and let us know they're having issues," Davidson said.

Councils will typically still be charging 10 per cent late payment penalties.

KDC ratepayers who are in touch with the council regarding rates problems and arrange a rates payment plan may have may be able to remit the 10 per cent penalty in some situations.