It's a settler-style, four-bedroom house with wooden rafters and north-facing decks which might soon be up for sale and in the overheated Auckland property market, it's likely to excite bids well over $800,000.

However, it will come with a catch - one extremely unhappy owner who is refusing to be dragged out of her home.

Welcome to the base of activist Penny Bright, 60, a one-woman rates revolution who owes Auckland Council and its ratepayers $33,288.

Today is the first day the Auckland District Court can seize her home, at the council's request, to pay the rates bill. It has a 2011 valuation of $530,000.


Ms Bright, who bought the house in 1990 for $144,500, is the first of eight property owners the council is preparing to take action against. They are the front end of 179 ratepayers under review for $2.5 million in outstanding rates.

All could potentially lose their homes and businesses through a process which begins with the Auckland Council applying to the Auckland District Court.

If the house is successfully sold, the council will deduct the rates arrears from the purchase price and hand the balance to Ms Bright.

Council chief executive Stephen Town said through a spokesman:"The sale process is an absolute last resort where a ratepayer refuses to respond to repeated efforts to pay, and it is something we do very reluctantly."

Mr Town has to personally approve each application to seize houses which come on the hit list after at least two years of rates arrears and owing the lower of either $5000 or more than 1 per cent of the property value.

Ms Bright is first up because of the length of her debt - council records date her non-payment back to 2008.

Ms Bright says she is being picked on by Auckland Council. A hard-boiled activist from Springbok Tour days, she is the council's loudest and most determined critic.

Her campaign against the council is linked to her refusal to pay rates - Ms Bright says she won't pay a penny until the council discloses how much is paid to private contractors.


She has filed papers opposing the sale, saying the council is able to bank the debt against the value of her home. Houses in the area have sold for more than $800,000 this year.

Further, she says she wasn't in court for the judgment against her and didn't know the hearing was on.